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Press Release

February 2, 2016

Contact: Steve Hawkins
Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 405-522-0754

Mountain-Plains Museums Association to Hold Conference Planning Meeting in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma History Center, a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society, and other cultural organizations in Oklahoma City, will host 25 staff and directors of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association (MPMA). The conference planning meeting will take place Tuesday, February 9, through Thursday, February 11, in preparation for a major museum conference to be held in Oklahoma City in October.

MPMA is holding its midwinter meeting in Oklahoma City and will discuss the details of the conference and establish the curriculum. Among the many items on the agenda will be to review the recommended cultural venues and to consider the numerous other points of interest offered by the Oklahoma City metro. Following this preliminary survey, MPMA will have the information needed to promote Oklahoma City as the conference host city to its 10 state membership. These states include Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

A large portion of the information MPMA representatives will gather will be from conversations with the people of the city and from viewing the offerings from attractions such as Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. This report will be shared with the various MPMA sites to help promote Oklahoma City as the host city for this year's conference.

The 2016 MPMA conference will be one of the largest museum conferences ever held in Oklahoma City. With over 400 museum professionals expected to attend the conference from MPMA's 10 states, there will not only be a positive economic impact (an estimated $350,000) but, according to Monta Lee Dakin, MPMA executive director, "A lot of people have never been to Oklahoma. The museum community welcomed us with open arms and urged us to make the town the site of our 2016 conference. We are excited to be able to show off Oklahoma City's cultural assets and those of the surrounding towns. MPMA members have already told me they are coming early to spend a few days exploring the city and the state."

The Crowne Plaza Oklahoma City has already been selected as the conference headquarters, and attendees will be bused to surrounding areas to visit historic and cultural sites.

The theme of the 2016 MPMA conference is "Crossroads of Culture: Many Voices, Many Stories," during which attendees will tour, learn and network. Anyone in Oklahoma who works, volunteers or is interested in museums and the arts may attend. Businesses that provide services and products to museums, historic sites and art centers will have the opportunity to exhibit at MPMA's trade show held during the conference.

The keynote speaker and presenters will be from Oklahoma, all 10 of MPMA's states and elsewhere across the country. Those who have committed include Mason Williams, an American guitarist and composer known for his instrumental "Classical Gas" and as a comedy writer for Saturday Night Live. Williams will be the keynote speaker and will discuss how to push the envelope to affect change in the larger culture. Also committed is Laura L. Lott, president of the American Alliance of Museums, Arlington, Va. Lott will present on the state of the national museum community and current trends in the museum field. Recently named as the executive director of Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, James Pepper Henry will draw from his vast experience to address the unique challenges of American Indians working in mainstream museums. Matt Reed, curator of American Indian and military history collections at the Oklahoma Historical Society, will speak on curating culturally sensitive artifacts to the regional registrars group. 

Early sponsors of the MPMA conference include theOklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Friends of the Oklahoma History Center and the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee, Okla.

There are a large number of students who want to enter into the arts, history and museum studies. MPMA's program, "Emerging Museum Professionals" will provide sessions on how an individual, new to the field, can navigate their way into the profession. An MPMA scholarship program has been established to assist those individuals. This may only be accomplished through donations and sponsorships from individuals and groups devoted to the advancement of the profession. MPMA wishes to convey a request to support this scholarship program.

Kathy Dickson and Dan Provo of the Oklahoma Historical Society are the conference co-chairs. Dan Provo stated that, "Hosting the MPMA conference in Oklahoma City is a wonderful opportunity to work collaboratively with cultural organizations across the area and to showcase the exciting cultural and economic development of Oklahoma City and the state. Members of the museum community will share some of the many innovative and creative contributions that cultural and business enterprises are making to the state while also generating substantial new revenue for the state and the community."

For more information about the conference, sponsorship and exhibiting, visit the Mountain-Plains Museums Association website at www.mpma.net

The Oklahoma History Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives and is an accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains 29 museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.

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