#MWXX Invades L.A. - Museums and the Web 2016

Kelsey at MW Conference in LA
April 25, 2016

During the second week in April, I had the immense privilege to attend the 20th annual Museums and the Web Conference in Los Angeles, CA thanks to support from the PAF Professional and Academic Development Fund. The week-long conference addressed various ways in which the museum field is currently utilizing technology and new media. 

While at the conference I served as one of 20 volunteers who helped facilitate the program sessions and complete behind-the-scenes tasks. Serving as a volunteer was an amazing way to become further connected in the museum tech community as I established relationships with other volunteers and conference attendees. 

In addition to my role as a volunteer, I presented a “Lightning Talk” with another graduate student from the Museum Studies program. The conference accepts proposals for seven minute talks to be held on the last day of the conference. The proposal my colleague and I submitted discussed the skills gap between what Museum Studies programs offer to students and what is expected from “entry level” jobs in the museum technology industry. During our seven-minute presentation, we explained the challenge faced by employers and recent grads, the skills that are expected from graduate students, but not necessarily taught, and possible solutions to the problem. 

We received a tremendous amount of support from the museum tech community following our presentation. We are now in the process of establishing an online collective for skill sharing between museum professionals and students. Colleagues from The Getty, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, our local friends from the Smithsonian museums, and others have reached out to us to be involved as we build this project from the ground up. Additionally, we have been asked to give our presentation again at various meetings throughout the year. What started as a mere idea five months ago is now a supported initiative by so many, and it’s been an amazing experience to lead it in tandem with my partner. 

The collaborative and open nature of the museum community continues to amaze me. This conference was the perfect book end to my graduate career. I made so many new friends, met many of my “Twitter friends” in person for the first time, and was inspired by the community as a whole. It was an invigorating experience and one that I will cherish moving forward with my career. I also got to see some great museums in L.A. – including The Broad, which usually has a three month waiting list. It was incredible. I can’t wait for next year’s conference! 

My attendance at this conference was made possible in part by the PAF Professional and Academic Development Fund and by the Museum Studies department. 


PAF alumni are encouraged to support the PAF Professional and Academic Development Fund to ensure current PAFs continue to have access to experientially-oriented professional and academic development conference and training opportunities outside the university to complement their academic programs and their GW placement and leadership experiences. Learn more and make a gift today!

Kelsey Johnston

PAF Class of 2016
BA '14
MA '16