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Biennial Conference

The Future is Now: Emerging Perspectives in Museology and Museum Anthropology

March 25-26, 2022

The Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA) is pleased to host a virtual symposium in Spring 2022 focused on the ongoing work of students and emerging professionals. TheFuture is Now: Emerging Perspectives in Museology andMuseum Anthropology invites participants to learn about new research and practices in the field.

Register here:

Symposium Program
Participant Bios


CMA Biennial Conference update May 2021

Dear members and friends of the Council for Museum Anthropology, we write to provide an update on the status of the CMA’s biennial conference. The results of the 2020 survey on the CMA biennial conference showed that the majority of our membership would prefer to reserve the funds and wait to hold an in-person conference until it is safe to do so. Given the differences in vaccine rollout internationally, the current status of COVID cases, and the challenges many potential institutional hosts currently face, we have decided to continue to postpone the call for host institutions. We hope that at the time that we release a call for potential hosts, institutions and locations may be in a better place to envision an in-person conference with all the financial and logistical considerations in requires.

However, we are also conscious of how conferences provide a valuable opportunity for students and early career scholars to network and share their work. Opportunities to do so have been limited in the pandemic. With this in mind, we are planning to host a day-long virtual symposium in the spring of 2022 specifically intended to showcase the work of students and early career scholars. More information to follow in Fall 2021.

CMA Committee on Conference: Kristin Otto (Chair), David Odo, Jennifer Kramer, Elysia Poon

2021’s CMA Conference Call

Call for Letters of Interest to Host 2021 Council for Museum Anthropology Biennial Conference

The Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA) seeks expressions of interest from members whose institutions may wish to host our next Museum Anthropology conference in 2021. The biennial CMA conference aims to foster critical reflection and discussion on (1) the state of museum anthropology as an academic discipline; (2) innovative methods for the use and research of collections; (3) exhibition experiments that engage with anthropological research; and (4) museums as significant sites for grappling with pressing social concerns such as immigration, inequality, racism, colonial legacies, heritage preservation, cultural identities, and representation, as well as creative productive responses to these issues. Organizers will choose the themes and title of the conference.

Eligible institutions include universities, museums, research centers, and/or other venues appropriate for a two-and-a-half day conference of about 150 participants. The inaugural conference was held in May 2017 at Concordia University in Montreal, attended by 111 people.  For more information on the inaugural conference, entitled Museum Anthropology Futures, please visit  The 2019 conference entitled Museums Different was held in Santa Fe and was attended by 159 people. For more information on the 2019 conference, please visit  The 2019 CMA conference organizers also created a handbook of materials to help guide the next conference organizers.

Letters of interest should describe your interest in hosting the conference as well as your institution’s ability to provide the following:

  • Financial support and/or grant writing assistance
  • Administrative support (travel, bookings, planning, program printing, etc.)
  • Auditorium and presentation rooms (please specify seating capacity)
  • Projection/Audiovisual capabilities and associated technical support
  • Student volunteers

The CMA will also consider your campus/city’s ability to provide housing accommodations suitable for various income levels.

Letters of interest are welcome to propose additional pre- or post-conference seminars, training opportunities, side events, and tours of local museums and heritage sites of potential interest to CMA members.

We would be happy to provide further details (including our earlier successful grant submissions and conference planning materials) to all interested parties. [The original call asked for letters of interest by April 30, 2020 to be sent to Carrie Heitman, CMA President and Diana Marsh, CMA Secretary.]

Past CMA Conferences

Museums Different (2019)
Santa Fe, New Mexico

September 19 – 21, 2019

The Council for Museum Anthropology’s second biennial conference took place in Santa Fe, New Mexico from Thursday, September 19th through Saturday, September 21st, 2019. Using the unique position of Santa Fe — the “City Different” — as a starting point for thinking broadly about both local and global approaches to museum anthropology, the conference theme was “Museums Different.” We built off the theme and conversations from our first conference, “Museum Anthropology Futures,” held in May 2017 at Concordia University in Montreal.

The conference was based on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill, home to both the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology and the Museum of International Folk Art. The conference included sessions and activities at the Institute of American Indian Arts as well as an evening reception at the School for Advanced Research.

Museum Anthropology Futures (2017)
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

May 25-27, 2017 

Conference Program 

This conference invited museum anthropologists (academics, students, and museum professionals), artists, art historians, as well as other curators and community thinkers and actors for 2.5 days of stimulating sessions, sustained knowledge exchange, and museum visits. “Museum Anthropology Futures” seeks to spark critical reflection and discussions on (1) the state of museum anthropology as an academic discipline; (2) innovative methods around the use of collections; (3) exhibition experiments that engage with anthropological research; and (4) the use of museums to effectively take on pressing social concerns such as immigration, inequality, racism, colonial legacies, heritage preservation, and cultural identities, representation, and creativity as productive responses to these.  “Museum Anthropology Futures” was designed to facilitate focused, frank, vivid conversations (roundtables, workshops, pecha kucha sessions, pop-up exhibits) and engage a broad public through keynotes and the dissemination of textual and audio-visual reportage in a range of media (press, podcasts, twitter, websites) during the post-conference period.