November 2022

Letter from the President

November 2022

A photo portrait of a white woman with shoulder length hair and glasses with a blurred outdoor garden setting in the background.

Autumn and early winter is my favorite times of year because of how it makes visible natural cycles of transition. However, adjusting to changing temperatures and hours of sunlight is not always easy, and, much like any change, can take time, effort, and grace to enact.

The Museum Education Roundtable (MER) exists as a gathering space of practitioners and scholars who share thinking and practice through the Journal of Museum Education (JME). Now in its 47th volume, this year’s issues captured deeply meaningful questions posed to our field as we navigate change. 47.1 Radical Reimaginings in Museum Education asks what does it mean to decolonize museum education and reimagine it in the world views of Indigenous, Black, and racialized people? 47.2 The Call for Disability Justice in Museum Education: Re-Framing Accessibility as Anti-Ableism provided the first issue in 41 years to be centered on disability, calling us to move beyond accessibility toward what anti-ableist museum education practices could look, sound, or feel like. 47.3 Collaborations: Notes from the Field explores how and why internal and external partnerships sustain our work. And our forthcoming and final issue of this year, 47.4, is poised to explore Activist Pedagogies.

As shared in our recent annual report, MER, as an organization, is also negotiating change. This summer was the first time our Board of Directors could gather in a hybrid format for our annual retreat. We used the time to bring to a close terms of several board members who held long and impactful tenures, as well as to welcome an incredible new cohort: Wade Berger, Kimaada Le Gendre, Brandie Macdonald, Andrea Kim Neighbors, David McCullough, Asami Robledo-Allen Yamamoto, and Marta Torres. I’m particularly grateful to David, Kimaada, and Marta, who immediately stepped into leadership roles. It was also the first time our staff–Michelle Moon (Co-Editor), Nathaniel Prottas (Co-Editor), and Aubrey Beam (Membership & Marketing Manager)–were able to meet in person to celebrate the achievements of their hard work.

In addition to continuing to shepherd the JME, our primary work  is to move MER into its next chapter through a new strategic plan. The goals we have set for ourselves for the next three years are to:

  1. Operationalize our commitment to DEAI, increasing how our outputs reflect internal values,
  2. Recenter our work as a membership-based organization, developing a robust community of stakeholders and diversified finances, and
  3. Effectively and responsibly steward personnel and resources in commitment to equity.

As we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary of the JME in 2023, there is so much we can dream and do when we embrace the work of change. We are excited to share our plans in more detail over the coming year as we continue to give shape to how we will enact this change. It is important to give a big thanks to everyone who supports MER, and I want to acknowledge the many individuals who shape our work by:

This community of reflection is how we navigate change in our world.

I am honored to continue a legacy of powerful past presidents, and serve alongside fellow officers Adria Brown and Wendy Ng as Vice Presidents, Rebecca Ljungren and Marta Torres as Co-Treasurers, and Hazel Theriault as Secretary. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] with your thoughts and questions!

Michelle Dezember

Michelle Dezember is Director of Learning & Engagement at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. She currently serves as Secretary of the Sumner High School Advisory Board and President of the Museum Education Roundtable Board of Directors.