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Annual Conference

OMA 2019 Annual Conference


September 15-17, 2019  /  John Day, OR


OMA invites you to John Day, Oregon to explore this year’s conference theme, Finding Common Ground. As museum professionals, we can inspire community collaboration and serve as sites for social dialogue on challenging topics and current events. We are asking participants to share stories and strategies for how we can strengthen our museums through cultural inclusion and community engagement.

New! See the conference schedule.

Dr Fang photo

Jennifer Fang, PhD
Keynote speaker

Jennifer Fang is the Assistant Director and Manager of Programs at the Portland Chinatown History Foundation, a partnership between Chinatown community elders and academic historians to preserve and tell the overlooked history of Chinese people in the region. In December 2018, the Foundation opened the Portland Chinatown Museum. Through a broad array of exhibitions and programming related to Chinese American history and Asian American arts, the museum honors Portland Chinatown’s past, celebrates its present, and helps to create its future.

Don Merritt
Keynote speaker

Don Merritt is the Museum Curator at Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site in John Day, OR. He graduated from the University of Montana in 2006 with a BS in Wildlife Biology and in 2010 from the University of Montana with an MA in Archaeology. He has worked on some very interesting archaeological projects and surveys during the last 12 years, including listing a segment of the California-Mormon-Pony Express Trail in Utah; and surveying and recording portions of the Rosebud Battlefield near the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana. His thesis was the archaeology and history of Fort Owen in southwest Montana, about which he is currently writing a book. But most importantly, he helped his brother Chris Merritt (Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer in Salt Lake City, UT) on his PhD dissertation on the Chinese of Montana, for which he gained the most knowledge on Chinese artifacts.

Sponsorship opportunities

Why sponsor the OMA Annual Conference?

Sponsorship increases your name recognition, helps attract new customers, and supports the advancement of Oregon museums. Museums like doing business with companies that support our field, and the stronger our museums, the more we can use services of vendors and consultants.

  • Level 1 - $1,500
  • Level 2 - $1,000
  • Level 3 - $500
  • Level 4 - $250

Read more about sponsorship opportunities.

Download the sponsorship form.

Donate to the conference

Pre-conference tours Sunday (9/15)

Enjoy some of the museums and institutions in and near John Day on Sunday, before the official start of the conference. Registration for these tours is optional and is included in the conference registration. You must sign up for tours when you register.

Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site

2-2:30, 2:30-3, and 3-3:30, Sunday, September 15, 2019

Originally a Chinese medical clinic, general store, community center and residence, Kam Wah Chung gives you an incomparable glimpse into the past. This remarkable site, a National Historic Landmark, is located in the town of John Day, and includes a museum and a separate interpretive center. Each 30 minute time slot can accommodate 10 people.

Thomas Condon Paleontology Center

2-3:30 pm, Sunday, September 15, 2019

This includes a visit to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument's Paleontology and Visitor Center.  While there, visit with Artist-in-Residence Reid Psaltis during the debut of his bronze sculpture of Cynarctodies lemur, an extinct dog. The Paleontology Center is located between the towns of Dayville and Kimberly, about an hour’s drive from John Day. The tour accommodates 10 people.

Sunday night meet up in John Day (9/15)

After your pre-conference tour, or check-in at your lodging, join us Sunday evening, September 15, 2019 for a meet up at 1188 Brewing Company in John Day. This is a casual no-host dinner for attendees and their partners to meet and greet and network with others in the museum community. Never been to a meet up? Interested in hosting one in your community but aren't sure how? Come to this one and see how (easily) it's done!

Details will follow after registration.

Monday night community walkabout and BBQ dinner (9/16)

Join us in an evening exploring Historic Canyon City, OR on Monday, September 16, 2019. Enjoy exclusive access to some of Grant County’s most beloved historic sites while catching up with colleagues, eating delicious BBQ and desserts, and participating in some outdoor activities. And, did we mention the annual Silent Auction? Place your final bids for some amazing prizes. We can’t wait to see you there. Some of the fun you'll be having includes:

    • Access to the Canyon City Brewery building
    • Self-guided tours of the Grant County Historical Museum and Greenhorn Jail
    • Tours of St. Thomas Episcopal Church
    • Roping tutorial
    • Croquet
    • Movie and popcorn

    Stay tuned for more info!


    OMA members: $95
    Non-members: $115

    Register now

    Silent auction

    Do you have an item you'd like to donate to to OMA’s silent auction to be held at the 2019 annual conference? Email us at connect@oregonmuseums.org and see our donation form.

    Your donation helps us support museum professionals in Oregon, as all proceeds of the silent auction go towards scholarships for student and first-time attendees for the OMA annual conference.

    All auction items will be prominently displayed in the conference venue, and you will be recognized in our conference materials.


    OMA has reserved a limited number of rooms for September 15 and 16, 2019 at the Best Western John Day Inn.

    • Double queen rooms: $144/night +tax
    • King rooms: $153/night +tax

    To reserve, call 541/575-1700 and ask for the Oregon Museums Association rate. This rate cannot be accessed through online booking.

    Other lodging options in the John Day area:


    Grant County Regional Airport
    72000 Airport Road
    John Day, OR 97845

    The road trip to John Day is one of the best Oregon has to offer. “Where the high desert meets the mountains.” September is one of the most beautiful months for scenery with the fall foliage in full bloom.  Grant County features pine forests, mountains, lush range lands and sweeping river valleys.

    You will have opportunities to visit the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site; the John Day Fossil Beds and Thomas Condon Paleontology Center, and Cant RanchDeWitt Museum at Depot Park; and the Grant County Historical Museum.

    The conference will be held high above the city at the Grant County Regional Airport. The John Day/Grant County Regional Airport is one of the newest, most energy efficient, environmentally friendly structures of its kind anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. It was designed as a multi-use facility and has completely outfitted conference and training rooms.

    The passion, pride and small-town spirit of Grant County’s 7,100 people will be evident in the special greetings, events and surprises we have in store for conference attendees.

    If you have questions or ideas, email OMA Conference Chair, Ann Dowdy,  or call 541-226-1270.

    Comments from 2018 Annual Conference attendees

    “This was a great experience - warm and friendly. Plus, great info!”

    “These intimate conferences are a gem!”

    “As a new OMA member, I thought the conference was a lot of fun and really informative.”

    Past Conferences

    2018: Resilience: Responding to Change

    September 9, 10 and 11, 2018
    Hood River, OR

    Conference Schedule

    2017: Dialogue

    September 10-12, 2017
    Astoria, OR

    2016: Engage!

    October 2015
    Eugene, OR

    Conference Schedule

    2015: Telling the Whole Story

    Diversity and Change in Today's Museums
    October 11-13, 2013
    Pendleton, OR

    Conference Schedule

    2014: Connecting & Collaborating

    Inspiring Museums for New Generations
    October 26-28, 2014
    Portland, OR

    Conference Schedule

    2012: Museums & the New Normal: Building Relevance in Your Community

    October 28-30, 2012

    Ashland, OR

    Conference Schedule

    2011: The Sustainable Museum: People, Environment, Economy

    October 16-18, 2011
    Philomath, OR

    Conference Schedule

    Mailing Address: P.O. Box 8604, Portland, OR 97207
    Contact: connect@oregonmuseums.org 
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