innovation, inspiration & sustained futures

In early 1962, as the Space Needle’s structural steel climbed to the sky, the Northwest eagerly awaited the opening of the Century 21 Exposition, the futuristic World’s Fair that would put Seattle on the world stage. Now, in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of the fair, the Washington Museum Association has selected Seattle Center, the Century 21 site, as the venue for its 2012 statewide conference, and has tapped the fair’s forward-looking vision for its theme, The Next 50: Innovation, Inspiration, and Sustained Futures for Museums.

The conference will take place from June 13-15, in and around the iconic structures that make up the vibrant Seattle Center campus. In the shadow of the landmark Space Needle, conference goers will participate in interpretive walks of the historic grounds and gather for the keynote address at the Experience Music Project Museum. The conference will provide other opportunities to explore the fair’s lasting civic center legacy that has spawned theatre, ballet, opera, and museums such as EMP, Pacific Science Center and The Children’s Museum. The Next Fifty, Seattle Center’s six-month long commemoration of the fair’s semi-centennial, will be in full swing during the conference, and will include a Century 21 retrospective exhibit, produced by the Museum of History & Industry. As an official partner with The Next Fifty, the WMA has even more in store for conference attendees.

The new Maxwell Hotel, just one block from Seattle Center, is offering reduced-rate lodging for the WMA. With conference sessions taking place in the Center’s Northwest Rooms, the Maxwell is within easy walking distance of all events, and provides free parking and free Internet access. In addition, the Maxwell is including a roundtrip Monorail pass for each WMA guest. Room rates are $125 + tax per night for single and double occupancy, and $145 + tax per night for triples and quads. The WMA block of rooms will be held only until May 16, 2012, and space is limited, so book early by contacting the Maxwell Hotel toll free at 866-866-7977, or by e-mail at When reserving a room, be sure to note that you will be attending the Washington Museum Association conference.

Over the past fifty years, Washington’s museum field has witnessed substantial change and exponential growth. But what will the next fifty bring? In posing that question, the WMA is counting on the museum community to initiate the dialog about the past, present and future of museums by submitting a conference session proposal.

Whether your involvement in the Washington Museum Association Conference is as session presenter or attendee, the 2012 meeting in Seattle offers numerous opportunities for information sharing and stimulating discussion with colleagues in the field. Come for the conference and experience Seattle’s exciting cultural environment.

© Original Space Needle illustration from Seattle World’s Fair Records, Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Regional Branch, Bellevue.