Visitor experiences in cultural institutions are rapidly evolving. As time progresses, the museum is seen as a forum for debate, an advocate for social justice,  a necessary supplement to a formal education, and an inclusive environment for all. These changes test visitor experience departments as institutions host more events, programs expand beyond museum walls, and interactions with visitors enter challenging territory. Join us in Philadelphia this October to take the next step in fostering this new age in culture and promoting the idea of an inclusive experience for all our visitors.

We welcome creative, innovative and forward-thinking proposals focused on the 2017 theme The Next Step. Please consider one of the following theme topics that may be relevant to initiatives that developed visitor experiences at your institution…

  • Building Redesign and Way Finding
  • Visitor Models
  • Inclusion Initiatives
  • Evaluation
  • Partnerships
  • Expansions
  • Innovative Programming

General session topic proposals are also welcome and can address one or more of the following:

  • Accessibility
  • Community Engagement
  • Strategic and Master Planning
  • Budget Basics
  • Visitor Services 101
  • Internal and External Communication
  • Sustainability
  • Staffing and Hiring

Please follow these guidelines for submitting:

  • Proposals must be submitted by Monday April 3, 2017. Only complete submissions will be reviewed
  • Panels are 45 minutes in length (this includes time for question and answers)
  • Panels will ideally have some interactive/action element
  • While case studies are nice, please balance them with actionable and concrete ideas that attendees can use at their own institutions
  • If there is more than one presenter working on a proposal together, please establish a point of contact
  • Have an idea that does not align with this year’s theme?  Please send us an email at  We would be happy to discuss the idea and provide feedback on whether it is a good fit for this year’s conference

Suggestions for Presenters

Panels are 45 minutes in length and should include time for Q&A. Please keep in mind that it is important to remember who your audience is as you develop your session. Attendees are at various stages in their careers and come from a variety of industries in the cultural field. It is important to incorporate the following learning principles as you develop your proposal.

  • Build on the past knowledge and experiences of your participants.
  • Participants want to apply their learning to present situations so be sure to express clear real life applications
  • If this is a case study, show clear connection to situations visitor experience professionals face on a daily basis
  • Remember to make your attendees active participants in the learning process rather than passive listeners


Presenters will not be compensated for travel or time spent, but speakers will receive complimentary registration and will be provided lunch during the day-long session on October 9.  Additionally, presenters will receive discounted pricing on the ala carte conference after-hours events.

Decision-Making Timeline:

Decisions regarding the selection of sessions and panelists will be e-mailed to all candidates by Friday, May 5, 2017.  Please email or visit with any questions during the process.

Submit your session here: