More About CAM
Founded in 1979 by museum leaders engaged in advocating for Californian museums, the California Association of Museums (CAM), is dedicated to advancing museums across the state of California in service to their communities. With a mission to unify and strengthen California museums to expand their collective impact, CAM exists with a vision for “Stronger Museums for a Stronger California.” The association has five goals: to foster networks and collaboration, advocate collectively and proactively, build capacity, share knowledge, and best practices, and cultivate leadership and diversity.
CAM is one of the most active state museum associations in the nation, committed to providing innovative and educational programs and services to institutions and museum professionals. It supports over 1,200 individual, business, and institutional members within its association, and members include art and historical museums, natural history and science museums, children’s museums, aquariums, cultural centers, botanical gardens, and zoos, as well as museum professionals and businesses.
CAM offers a wide selection of programs and services to its members. These include professional development opportunities, including an annual conference and regional workshops that address best practices and trends. The annual conference in 2021 was entirely virtual, and in 2022 the conference was organized as five mini-conferences in five different cities across multiple weeks. Other programs and services offered include a publication called CAM eNews which is sent biweekly to subscribers; studies and reports; an advocacy program that monitors legislation and spearheads strategic initiatives; and an annual Green Museums Seminar with corresponding Secretary's Award for Excellence in Sustainability. In addition, there are special initiatives that promote leadership in critical issues affecting museums. There are various membership levels that allow everyone and every budget size to become a part of CAM, including a “pay what you can” option. Membership allows free or discounted conference registration, free programs, a digital archive of past programs and conference sessions, emergency resources for museums and staff, and advocacy work on behalf of museums. Sponsorship opportunities allow organizations to raise awareness about their brand and services to help achieve their marketing goals.
In early 2021, CAM approved a Racial Equity Statement and workplan which outlined the association’s commitment and actions to foster a culture of anti-racism and diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI). CAM established four values for DEAI: Community and Collective Action, Inclusive Leadership, Responsiveness, and Reflection and Connection. As part of this effort, CAM’s DEAI Task Force met with and listened to communities that needed to be better included and represented, then created a plan of action for systemic change, communicated this plan with the public, and activated that plan to grow and adapt its relevance and commitment to those underserved communities. In November 2021, CAM’s Board of Directors approved an Equity Action Plan, and the Task Force transitioned to an Equity Advisory Committee.
There are several Member Committees that actively involve members of the association, including the California Networks Council, an Equity Advisory Committee, a Finance Committee, a Fund Development Committee, a Government Relations Committee, a Host Committee, a Program Committee, a Strategic Action Committee, an Executive Committee, and a Governance Committee. Each committee’s work is guided by a charter and annual objectives, approved by the Board of Directors.
CAM is governed by a 22-member board of directors, consisting of museum professionals from all parts of California, and who represent museums of different sizes, disciplines, geographical region, mission, and scope. This includes art institutions, history museums, multidisciplinary organizations, natural history, and science museums. Board members are identified through nominations by museum professionals and through the pro-active work of the Governance Committee. The staff of four currently includes an Interim Executive Director, a Program Manager, an Administration Manager, all of whom are full-time, and a part-time Communications Manager. There is not a physical office for CAM, and all staff members work remotely.