This year, the Association of Midwest Museums (A.M.M.) is partnering with the Illinois Association of Museums (I.A.M.) to hold a joint annual conference in Chicago from Wednesday, July 18, 2018 to Saturday, July 21, 2018. The Visitor Studies Association (V.S.A.) will concurrently hold the V.S.A. 2018 Conference from Thursday, July 19, 2018 to Saturday, July 21, 2018. The 2018 A.A.M.-I.A.M.-V.S.A. Conference has the motto “Fostering Transparency, Strengthening Public Trust.”
George R. Fox (1880-1963), the founding curator of the Chamberlain Memorial Museum in Three Oaks, Michigan, founded the A.M.M. in 1927 as the Michigan-Indiana Museums Association. Charity M. Counts became the Executive Director of the Association of Midwest Museums in April of 2016. The A.M.M. celebrated its ninetieth anniversary in 2017. The 2017 A.M.M. Conference was held in partnership with the Iowa Museum Association in Des Moines, Iowa; the 2016 A.M.M. Conference was held in partnership with the Minnesota Association of Museums in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the 2015 A.M.M. Conference was held in Cincinnati, Ohio; the 2014 A.M.M. Conference was held in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Illinois Association of Museums seeks to collaborate with museums across Illinois to promote best practices. An independent museum network, the I.A.M. supports the work of The American Alliance of Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, the Association of Midwest Museums, and other local and regional museum networks across the state. The I.A.M. is, naturally, headquartered in the state capital city of Springfield in central Illinois. Karen Everingham is the Board President and Matthew Toland is the Administrator. The 2017 I.A.M. Annual Meeting and Conference was held in Mt. Vernon, which is the count seat of Jefferson County in southern Illinois. The 2016 I.A.M. Annual Meeting and Conference was held in west suburban Oak Park. The 2015 I.A.M. Annual Meeting and Conference was held in Springfield. Museum vendors and other groups that want to connect with museum professionals may exhibit at the A.M.M.-I.A.M. joint conference. The Corporate Member rate is $150 and the non-member rate is $300. If a party would like to exhibit at the conference, one can click here and e-mail the I.A.M. Administrator. Proceeds from the I.A.M. Silent Auction go to the Mary Helen Turner Scholarship fund for I.A.M. Members to attend I.A.M. Conferences. Click here to fill out the 2018 Silent Auction Form.
Headquartered in Parker, Colorado, the Visitor Studies Association describes itself as a “membership organization dedicated to understanding and enhancing learning experiences in informal settings through research, evaluation, and dialogue.” At the V.S.A. 2018 Conference, an “emerging professional in audience research/evaluation who shows great potential in the field” will receive the April Award. The deadline to submit both applications for the April Award and applications for student scholarships to attend the V.S.A. 2018 Conference is Friday, February 16, 2018.
The 2018 A.A.M.-I.A.M.-V.S.A. Conference will be held in the famous Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue. This hotel has appeared in The Fugitive (1993), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), The Road to Perdition (2002), and other films, as well as television shows. Designed by Holabird & Roche, it opened as the Stevens Hotel in 1927 as the largest hotel in the world. Conrad Hilton acquired the Stevens Hotel in 1945 and the named changed in 1951 to the Conrad Hilton. In 1984, the Conrad Hilton closed down to undergo $185,000,000 in renovations that included the conversion of 3,000 guest rooms to 1,544 larger guest rooms. It reopened as the Chicago Hilton and Towers in 1985. The name of the hotel changed, yet again, in 1998 to Hilton Chicago. A $150,000,000 renovation in 2012 included three new restaurants: 720 South Bar & Grill, SNAX, and Kitty O’Shea’s. SNAX is now closed. There are four restaurants at Hilton Chicago now: 720 South bar, 720 South Grill, Herb N’ Kitchen, and Kitty O’Shea’s. Today, Hilton Chicago is the third-largest hotel in Chicago by the number of hotel rooms and has the most meeting and event space. It has the largest and most expensive hotel suite in the city. Formerly, the Tower Ballroom, the Conrad Hilton Suite is 5,000 square feet spread out over two floors. It costs $7,000 per night. The Conrad Hilton Suite has a helicopter pad; a grand piano; a billiard table; a dual-sided fireplace; floor-to-ceiling French doors that open on to terraces that look onto Grant Park, and beyond Lake Michigan; a great room; a library; a dining room and kitchen that is fully equipped for catered events; two half-bathrooms on the lower floor; and three bedrooms on the upper floor: a master suite, a king-sized guest bedroom, and one double-sized room. From the Great Room, one can view Grant Park, the Museum Campus, and Lake Michigan. The street address of the Hilton Chicago is 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60605.
The Art Institute of Chicago in Grant Park is a short walk up Michigan Avenue from Hilton Chicago. It is across the street and five blocks north, on the west end of Grant Park, along Michigan Avenue with the main entrance of the original building at a T-intersection with Adams Street. The address is 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60603. The Pritzker Military Museum & Library is across the street from the North Garden in front of The Art Institute of Chicago. The address is 104 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60603. The hotel is within walking distance or a short cab ride from Millennium Park to the northeast, the Museum Campus to the east, Burnham Park to the southeast, Navy Pier to the northeast, and the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue to the north. The Chicago Cultural Center is three blocks north of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library and across the street from Millennium Park. The address is 78 East Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois 60602. North of the Chicago River, the Museum of Contemporary Art (M.C.A.) is in Streeterville east of the Magnificent Mile, while the Loyola University Museum of Art (L.U.M.A.) is on the Water Tower Campus of Loyola University Chicago and the Richard H. Driehaus Museum in the cathedral district west of the Magnificent Mile. The M.C.A. address is 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611; the L.U.M.A. address is 820 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611; and the Driehaus Museum address is 40 East Eerie Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611. People who are accustomed to long walks can reach the Museum of Contemporary Art, L.U.M.A., and the Driehaus Museum from Hilton Chicago in a reasonable amount of time, but if time is at a premium, take a bus or cab (or Uber or Lyft).
Farther to the north, attendees can reach The Newberry Library or Lincoln Park in a cab ride or bus ride of less than half an hour’s duration (ten-to-twenty minutes depending on traffic) on the North Side of Chicago from Hilton Chicago. The Newberry Library is an independent research library located north of Washington Square Park, four blocks west of Michigan Avenue. The address is 60 West Walton Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610. The International Museum of Surgical Science is west of Lake Shore Drive across the street from where the Lakefront Trail runs into Lincoln Park. The address is 1524 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60610. In Lincoln Park, attendees will find the Lincoln Park Zoo; the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which is the natural history museum of the Chicago Academy of Sciences; and the Chicago History Museum, which is the museum of the Chicago Historical Society. The Chicago History Museum is in southwestern Lincoln Park, at the northeast corner of Clark Street and North Boulevard. The address is 1601 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois 60614. The Lincoln Park Zoo is west of the South Lagoon and south of Fullerton Avenue, as is the Lincoln Park Conservatory. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is located north of Fullerton Avenue, west of the South Lagoon, and east of the North Pond. The address is 2430 North Cannon Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60614.
One can reach the Museum Campus from Hilton Chicago simply by walking eastward across Grant Park in good weather. A walk across two long blocks straight eastward across Grant Park from Hilton Chicago will bring one to the lakeshore. The Museum Campus is approximately five blocks southeast from Hilton Chicago. It is home to The Field Museum of Natural History, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. The Field Museum’s address is 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605; the Shedd Aquarium’s address is 1200 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605; and the Adler Planetarium’s address is 1300 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605.
The Museum of Science and Industry is a short cab ride or bus ride down Lake Shore Drive from the Museum Campus. Alternatively, one can take an electric Metra train south from Metra train station under Grant Park to the 57th Street Station in Hyde Park and walk two blocks eastward from there to the Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.). The M.S.I. is located at the northern end of Jackson Park, at the intersection of 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, in the neighborhood of Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago. The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637. Turn west here to see Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust’s Frederick C. Robie House, which is off 57th Street, between the Museum of Science and Industry and The University of Chicago campus; The Oriental Institute on the campus of The University of Chicago; and, beyond, The DuSable Museum of African American History in Washington Park. The address is Robie House is 5757 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637; the address of The Orient Institute is 1155 East 58th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637; and the address of the DuSable Museum is 740 East 56th Place, Chicago, Illinois 60637.
There are twelve cultural institutions under the umbrella organization Museums in the Park: the Chicago History Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Lincoln Park Zoo, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the DuSable Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art, and The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. Chicago’s three largest museums – The Art Institute of Chicago, The Field Museum, and the Museum of Science and Industry – are each too large for one to see everything they have to offer in one day, but with some judicious planning one can see the most famous exhibits in each museum in one day. Please note, though SUE – the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil skeleton yet found by paleontologists – will not be available to view because she will have been de-installed in Stanley Field Hall by then and awaiting re-installation upstairs.
Figure 1 Credit: S.M. O’Connor Caption: This is a presentation of books about the Adler Planetarium; Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle at the Museum of Science and Industry; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Field Museum; and the Shedd Aquarium.
To register for the 2018 A.A.M.-I.A.M.-V.S.A. Conference, click here. The sponsors are OnCell, U.S. Art, solidlight, Encurate, luci CREATIVE, roto, McGough, and ALLIED VAUGHN. OnCell has a mobile app builder, a mobile app being a computer program designed to operate on a mobile device (tablet computer, smartphone, or smartwatch), for museums, historic sites, parks and gardens, university campuses, hotels, marketing firms and public relations firms, city tourism bureaus, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. The institution in question can build its own mobile app or have an OnCell mobile app designer build it for the institution and then once the app launches the institution pays a monthly subscription fee to maintain it. U.S. Art Company Worldwide Fine Art Handling Services ships artworks and antiques. The company can also offers installation and rigging services, consultation for moving, and museum-quality storage for both short-term and long-term purposes. Solid Light plans, designs, fabricates, and installs exhibits for museums. It is also a consulting firm. Encurate Mobile Technology manages tour mobile apps for museums. Luci Creative is a project management firm that helps institutions with projects from conception through design and implementation. Roto Group, L.L.C., is a company that designs, builds, and fabricates exhibits, exhibitions, attractions, and sets for museums, science centers, zoos, theme parks, visitor centers, and D.A.R.P.A., as well as The Jim Henson Company, Nickelodeon, Google, and other companies. McGough is a construction and property management firm. Allied Vaughn is a digital asset management company.
 Please note that the American Association of Museums, founded in 1906, changed its name in 2012 to The American Alliance of the Museums.
 Please note that Millennium Park has a distinct identity from Grant Park, but it is actually part of Grant Park.