CAM Blog

Posted April 3, 2018 by Mr. BOT ACCOUNT KEEP, MAAE, MD

Personal Reflection from AAM’s Museums Advocacy Day February 2018

Kevin Cabrera with Congressman Lou Correa.

Thanks to the assistance of the California Association of Museums (CAM), I had the opportunity to participate in my first Museums Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. Before I begin with the overall experience, I want to share a bit of information about me. I have been in the museum field for 6 years and have held an upper management role for almost 3 years at the Heritage Museum of Orange County. My time in the field has opened my eyes to the great work that museums do around the country and the amazing programs that are offered to our community in a variety of fields to a large diverse demographic. I have also had the opportunity to meet museum professionals who are passionate about the work they do. And while I was aware of museums and professionals doing amazing work, I was completely unaware of the advocacy that occurs in the background to provide support for all museums. So when I was chosen to be CAM’s California Advocate, I was excited, nervous, and anxious about all that I would learn about and be exposed to. I knew that I would meet with congressional leaders from my state, but I was not sure of the topics I would talk to them about. 

On Sunday, February 25th, AAM held a Legislative Study Hall, which was a great introduction to what was in store the next couple of days. I was tasked to begin researching the members of Congress that I would be visiting. AAM scheduled all the meetings so it was good not to worry about the logistics of that. The research turned out to be an enriching experience because it forced me to learn about the committees and areas of interest of the Congressional members. This allowed me to make personal connections and to know what angles to hit when the time came. 

Later that night AAM hosted a welcome reception. It was great to see so many people from around the country come together to support and advocate for museums. I networked with quite a few museum representatives that night. I knew the next couple of days would be very busy. Monday, February 26th was a full day of orientation and workshops. Laura Lott, President and CEO of AAM, gave a wonderful talk about the economic impacts of museums, which completely surprised me. I had no idea how much museums give back to our national GDP and how much public opinion approves of government funding for museums. Stephanie Vance gave a great talk on Advocacy Essentials, and there were updates on the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Next we learned about the legislation we would be advocating for the following day and met with our fellow state advocates. I learned that funding for the Office of Museum Services, which provides $38.6 million in support to museums across the country, might be eliminated. 

I ended the day by meeting with other California advocates to prepare for our legislative visits. It was great to meet and network with other museum professionals from California. We developed a plan of who would speak, provide personal stories, and make the asks to our representatives. The knowledge and experience of our group, as well as the workshops and research provided earlier that day eased my anxiety over the upcoming meetings. 

We started Tuesday with breakfast, which gave our group one last opportunity to talk prior to meeting with Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s offices. I did not know what expect because some people said that visits can sometimes take place in offices or in hallways, and that some go really well while others are not as well received. 

Our first meeting with Senator Harris’ staff member went very well. We introduced ourselves and talked about the legislative items that can drastically affect museums. Senator Harris’ office staff representative was very attentive and supportive of what we all do to support, educate, and teach our communities. I walked out of that office ecstatic; it was such a great experience. The next meeting was with Senator Feinstein’s representatives and our group, but I had to leave early for an individual meeting with my local member of Congress. I began to get nervous because I was on my own this time, and I was meeting with my actual Representative, Lou Correa. Once the meeting started, it went very smoothly. I stumbled a few times on my talking points, but Congressman Correa was very receptive and surprised to learn about museums’ impact on our community and economy. I even had a chance to speak about the Heritage Museum with the Congressman and some of the programs we are doing with our elementary and high school students. 

After meeting with Congressman Correa, I had three more visits back to back. My visits took place between three different congressional buildings, so I spent a lot of time walking from building to building. The majority of the staff of the congressional offices were welcoming, and receptive to the message of supporting museums. I ended my last visit exhausted, but felt accomplished about making an impact for the museum field. 

The day went by like a blur, but reflecting back on everything, it was such an enriching experience. I have a few takeaways after participating in Museums Advocacy Day. First, educating our elected representatives on the impact that we make on our communities is so important. What I found the most interesting is that most representatives are not always aware of all the great work museums do for our communities. Second, everyone in the museum field should have the opportunity to participate in an advocacy day. I am so grateful for this opportunity and will definitely do all I can do in the future to attend more. Third, the comradery of over 300 museum representatives coming together was empowering. It convinced me that there is always more that I can do to represent museums in general. Lastly, networking with other museum professionals was a great experience. I met leaders from across the nation and had a chance to develop great relationships. 

I wish to thank CAM for granting me a scholarship to participate in Museums Advocacy Day. CAM has turned me into a lifelong museum advocate. I encourage everyone to go to Museums Advocacy Day 2019 if they have the opportunity.
Posted October 2, 2017 by Ivy Young

Lessons Learned: California Networks for Collaboration  

It is a great pleasure to announce to you that the California Association of Museums (CAM) and 13 statewide partner organizations recently concluded a three-year pilot project, titled the California Networks for Collaboration (CNfC). The CNfC project involved over 400 museum professionals and cultural sector colleagues who generously provided their time and expertise to pilot a network and system for facilitating professional learning communities across California. (For an overview of the project, click through to the CAM website, here.) Study groups – or what we called Learning Collaboratives – offered a “blended” learning experience (i.e. both online and in-person) in which participants both learned and shared best practices for deepening museum engagement, accessibility, and audience research practices.

I invite you to join me in celebrating our successes and explore the lessons learned!

You can learn more about the participants’ key recommendations for deepening museum engagement, accessibility, and audience research. At of the conclusion of the six-month program, each regional Learning Collaborative group documented their most salient findings in what we refer to as “knowledge products.” Each knowledge product is a distinct document that relays key takeaways and practical applications for each topic studied. All vary in format and delivery, or both. Together, the knowledge products provide insight into the museum field’s practices for audience research, engagement strategies, and accessibility. (A list and short description of all knowledge products along with embedded hyperlinks for download are all available at the CAM website, here.)

If you are interested in learning more about this project—and our “lessons learned”, you can download, read, and share CAM’s final report, Networked & Collaborative: Convening California Museum Professionals in Pilot Learning Communities. While this final report delves into the background and framework of the greater CNfC project, it also highlights a number of the key lessons learned in implementing our ambitious model. We learned a lot about how to nurture collaborative learning communities across a vast geographic region particularly in areas concerning the needs of rural and urban communities, the time-commitment it takes in truly collaborative endeavors, and how to foster collaboration in meetings. 

Whether you work at a small historic site in the Sierra Nevada mountain range or direct statewide initiatives for collective impact from a major metropolis, I am confident that you will find some of the lessons we learned in implementing the CNfC Learning Collaboratives relevant to your practice. Please visit the CAM website for more details at or contact Emily Todd, CAM’s Administrative Coordinator (, with further inquiries.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant number MG-10-14-0010-14, and with the generous support of all CNfC partner organizations.

Posted September 17, 2017 by Celeste DeWald

Update on California Museums for All

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to take this opportunity to inform you of some recent and significant developments with respect to the California State Assembly bill that CAM sponsored this session, AB 755. The bill has been amended by the request of our author, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), due to an urgent need in his district. As you may recall, AB 755 would have created a California-based program that offered individuals and families with EBT cards free or very low cost ($0-$3.00 per person) admission to museums and provided a grant to participating California museums. The bill is no longer a Museums for All bill.

Assemblymember Garcia stands behind the intent of California Museums for All and is eager to introduce a new bill next session. CAM is deeply committed to helping museums become more accessible to all Californians. This is an opportunity to make the new bill even stronger next year.

Over the coming months, we will keep you informed of how you can best support what will eventually become a new Museums for All bill.

Thank you for the tremendous support we received from the field for this bill. The collective statewide effort through letters, emails, phone calls, personal visits, and testimony was impressive and will help our cause when the bill is reintroduced next session. If you have any questions about this latest development, please do not hesitate to contact CAM’s Advocacy Manager, Pamela Zielske, at or 831-471-9970, ext. 104.

Warm Regards,

Celeste DeWald

Executive Director

Posted March 24, 2017 by Celeste DeWald

CAM sponsors bill to make museums accessible to everyone 

It is with great pride that I share the news that the California Association of Museums (CAM) is sponsoring a bill in the California State Legislature that would build on the success of the national 
Museums for All program and boost funding for the California Cultural and Historical Endowment’s (CCHE) Museum and Cultural Resources Program. We are eager to work closely with the bill’s author, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), our members, and our advocacy partners to pass this bill through the Legislature and make museums more accessible to all Californians. 


If you haven’t yet heard of the Museums for All program, I encourage you to learn more. It is a cooperative initiative of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Association of Children’s Museums. The purpose of the program is to increase access to museums for low-income communities by eliminating financial barriers. Museums for All enables holders of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to gain free or low-cost admission to participating museums during regular hours of operation. California’s EBT card, the Golden State Advantage card, is issued to low-income individuals or families to facilitate the process for receiving food assistance and cash benefits. 


Because the program is specifically offered to eligible EBT cardholders, Museums for All greatly reduces—or eliminates—the financial barriers that may prevent low-income families from experiencing museums and benefiting from high-quality learning experiences. It also expands each museum’s visitor base and helps our field serve some of our state’s most disadvantaged populations. A museum’s participation in Museums for All is completely voluntary and will always remain so. 


CAM and Assemblymember Garcia’s bill, AB 755, would: (1) create a California-based program that will offer individuals and families with EBT cards free or very low cost ($0-$3.00 per person) admission to museums and (2) provide a grant to participating California museums. The purpose of the modest grant is to support each museum’s costs for participating in the program and experiencing an influx of new visitors. This costs could include producing marketing materials, translating text panels or brochures, training personnel, maintaining the integrity of hands-on exhibit components, and/or staff time to collaborate with local social service agencies. 


AB 755 would also allocate additional funding to CCHE’s Museum and Cultural Resources Program, which includes the Museum Grant Program. The Museum Grant Program supports small capital projects in museums, including the acquisition of real property, or construction projects at museum facilities or venues. It is designed to enhance school and public programs, help museums diversify and expand audiences, and support the role of museums within their communities. Additional support to CCHE’s Museum Grant Program would enable more California museums to apply for and obtain funding. 


As many of you know, President Trump's proposed FY 2018 budget includes the elimination of IMLS, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Given this uncertain future, our call to create a California-based Museums for All program and boost funding for museum services becomes even more vital. 


It is also important to mention that this appropriation request by CAM and Assemblymember Garcia is not an increase over what the Legislature and Governor appropriated in CCHE's current budget. Last year's budget process boosted CCHE's budget by $4.5 million for one-time expenditures. We are asking for this level of funding to continue.   


Given the shifting political and economic realities in this nation and State, we know this bill has many hurdles to overcome as it winds its way through the Legislative process. Our chances of success are eminently better with the support of our members and partners. I strongly encourage you to join our cause and submit a letter of support for AB 755. 


Visit to get the most recent information on the bill and to download a sample support letter as an museum, individual, or supportive organization. We’ve made it very easy for you! 


With your help, we can take real steps to make museums more accessible and support them in serving all Californians. 

Posted February 27, 2017 by Pamela Zielske

It's up to us...

Nearly 400 of our museum colleagues are in Washington, D.C. today and tomorrow to make the case that museums play an essential and vibrant role in our communities. These museum professionals will receive policy briefings and advocacy training before making their case in over 400 meetings with congressional offices during the American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) Annual Museums Advocacy Day. 

Many of us have heard that the stakes have never been higher for museums and, with a strong possibility of significant budget cuts looming overhead, that appears to be the case. Reports indicate that the Trump administration may propose eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, two agencies that support museums in every state. Check out how much NEA and NEH funding comes back to California, and then make sure your representatives hear how vital these agencies are for our institutions. 

It’s up to all of us to make our voices heard. The good news is that we don’t have to travel to Capitol Hill to join the cause. Take a look at AAM’s Advocate from Anywhere toolkit to find out how you can join the nationwide effort to make the case for museums from home.

Let’s all take a few minutes out of our schedules this week to make sure our members of Congress, and elected officials at the state and local level, hear from the most influential kind of advocates: their constituents.
Posted December 22, 2016 by Celeste DeWald

A quiet transformation in membership

There has been a quiet transformation happening behind the scenes at the California Association of Museums (CAM) this year. Have you noticed?

It all started last year when the CAM Board re-imagined our role in serving the museum field. Shortly thereafter, Board president Michaeleen Gallagher announced a new strategic framework with the mission: “CAM unifies and strengthens California museums to expand their collective impact”.

Simultaneously, our Membership Committee and Board have been thoughtfully considering how our membership program can better “unify” and “strengthen” California museums. We recognize that our ability to expand the field’s collective impact is directly related to the number of organizations and individuals who are actively engaged in our work.

Over the last decade and a half, CAM’s impact on the museum field has increased significantly. New services have been created (such as CAM e-News), program attendance has doubled, and special initiatives now engage hundreds more museum professionals. Yet, over that same time period, our individual and institutional membership program has not changed.

In September, we launched a new CAM website and a membership model that provides greater customization and more options for how museum professionals and museums wish to engage in our work. Each membership category (e.g. individual and institutional) now has three levels to help you customize your CAM membership experience: 

Membership Levels

CONNECT – The CONNECT level is ideal for those new to CAM or those who want basic access to valued services, such as CAM e-News. The low cost is accessible for anyone to CONNECT to CAM.

ENGAGE – The ENGAGE level is perfect for those who value engaging with their colleagues and actively participating in CAM’s programs and initiatives. The modest membership fees provide several benefits – including those that extend to all staff members of institutional members.

LEAD – The LEAD level is truly for individuals and institutions that view themselves as leaders in the field and/or value CAM’s leadership role. Enhanced benefits include recognition opportunities as well as complimentary individual memberships for ALL staff members of LEAD institutional members.

Our new website also offers an enhanced experience, allowing you to create a custom profile that better reflects your experience and museum connections. In 2017, we launched a new and exciting features that provide greater opportunities to connect and engage with other museum professionals – allowing you to customize your CAM member experience even more.

We are here to help you, as museum professionals, connect with each other, network, collaborate, and strengthen museums and the communities they serve.

If you have any questions about the new membership program, you are always welcome to contact our Membership and Communications Manager, Carey Lin, at or another member of our friendly staff.

Thank you for participating in CAM and supporting our vision to strengthen museums and the dynamic state we live in.

Posted October 17, 2016 by Joni Hess

Welcome to the new CAM website!

Welcome to the California Association of Museums' new website! This site will provide new ways for you to manage your CAM membership and engage with other museum professionals.

If you would like to become a Member, renew your membership, or register for an event, you will first need to log in. If you are new to CAM, just go to "log in" and create a new user. If you have an account already, you will need to set up a new password.

First things first:
For security reasons you need to set up a new password in order to gain access to your account - even if you had a password with CAM's old website and/or online community.  To do this follow the steps noted below. Please also read the “important key steps and issues” after Step 3 (below) as you go through the site.

1.  Choose “Forgot My Password” after clicking on the log in link in the upper right hand corner.

2. Enter your Email Address in the Username field and Click “Submit”

If the system cannot locate your email address, please contact us (see contact details below).

3. Once your password is emailed to you, you can return to the site and log into the system. You will be taken to your personal landing page.  On this page, select your name located in the upper right between the Sign Out and Cart links, to access your membership record.

The information in your record is what we were able to transfer from our previous records. You now have an important opportunity to make additions or corrections.

If you have questions regarding the new system or your membership, please contact Joni Hess, CAM's Membership and Communications Manager, at

We look forward to engaging with you and helping you connect with other museum professionals through this new virtual resource. Stay tuned for more information!