OMA Professional Development Series 2021-2022

The Context  About the Theme  Call for Proposals

Submit a Proposal  Submit a Suggestion

The Context

Museum professionals are faced with important choices in a period of rapid, transformative shifts and emerging opportunities.  As the sector starts a process of recovery and we envision a post-pandemic future, the OMA recognizes a need for discussions about more effective, connected, and forward-thinking ways of engaging in museum work. 

Making thoughtful decisions for the present and future might mean exploring new methodologies and digital solutions, and it might also mean reflecting on the tools already available to us and that have served us well during the pandemic.

This year, the OMA is focused on helping the sector plan and advocate for a strong recovery with a flexible format for our Annual Conference and professional development.

In response, we are preparing a professional development series on the theme of "Decision-making in the museum present and future’’.  Our goal is to bring the museum community together to learn from each other as we confront the challenges ahead and envision the future of the sector. We want you to be driving this process.

This series will feature Member Check-ins and Webinars that will engage with key topics and ideas that you have shared with us in your feedback. As we build a nimble and responsive association, we will continue to listen closely to your evolving needs and priorities.

About the Theme: “Decision-Making in the Museum Present and Future.”

This theme responds to the need for both practical program-level decision-making and prioritization and the need for big-picture institutional and sectoral discussions about the decisions we make in order to create change. It also allows for discussion of the choices that individuals make in their careers.

During the past year we heard from museum professionals at member check-ins and in PD evaluations that they wanted to hear from their colleagues about how they were adapting to the constantly changing pandemic environment. What were they doing, how and why? And did it work?

We have also heard calls for change to make museums more socially responsible organizations. How are museums changing the way they make decisions so that the future looks different from the past?

We need your help making these connections! 

Do you have a suggestion for a topic or speaker that you would like the OMA to pursue? Submit your ideas here!

Are you interested in leading a Webinar or facilitating a Member Check-in? Read on for guidelines to plan and submit a proposal. 

Our Annual Conference is going to look different this year—this is your chance to explore a topic that matters to you, share your work, start a conversation, and get feedback from your colleagues.

The Call for Proposals

We invite proposals for dynamic virtual programming that speak to this year’s theme. The first deadline for proposals is open! Feel free to submit multiple proposals.

Ways to approach the theme:

  • New decision-making methodologies - using different methods to make choices that result in different outcomes for museums and their communities
  • Who is involved in decision-making? – when do you go from consultation with stakeholders to including new voices in the decision-making process?
  • What does accountability look like?
  • How do museums move forward after making decisions that are not well-received?
  • Planning – making decisions about future strategic directions, scenario planning when there is not enough information to make a decision
  • Deciding when to say no
  • Deciding what a museum is
  • Individual decision-making – making career choices in uncertain times

The theme could tap into:

  • Choices that people made during the pandemic – different ways of doing museum work
  • Changing organizational processes to create more inclusive workplaces
  • How museums are planning in the face of uncertainty
  • Decisions that didn't work out - sharing stories
  • Choices that museums have made to do less - focus more
  • What people and organizations have done when bad decisions become public
  • ICOM definition process – a museum definition decision that needs to include and be accountable to the whole world

Not sure how your session idea fits with the theme? Submit anyway and we will work with you to develop your idea!

Below is some member feedback to inspire you as you develop your proposal:

Top 5 Learning Areas

Main Requests

Digitalization for immediate challenges & long term success

Collections care, interpretation, and access

Pandemic Stories, Lessons, & Strategies for Recovery

Fund Development

Social Justice

Support for small and rural museums

Working with limited budgets & resources

Indigenous perspectives

Sessions by & for underrepresented communities

Interactivity & strong participant engagement

Practical, skills-based sessions

Session Formats

We invite proposals in two formats: Member Check-ins and Webinars. If your proposed session does not fit into one of these formats let us know! We are happy to discuss creative approaches. All sessions will be held in Zoom, in either Meeting or Webinar mode.

a. Member Check-in Discussion Sessions

Member check-ins are virtual gatherings for OMA members. These discussion-based sessions aim to:

  • connect colleagues from across the province,
  • provide them with the opportunity to share experiences and chat about current issues that are relevant to their practices in an informal setting
  • introduce them to new perspectives that will bring inspiration to their careers

Launched in 2020 as part of the OMA’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Member Check-ins provided a platform for peer support, advice, motivation as members dealt with new challenges.

Suggested structure:  60 minutes
• Intro and Outro (5 minutes)
• Presentation (10 minutes): share your work and experiences.
• Facilitated Discussion (45 minutes): start a conversation to help participants make connections to their own practices, share their experiences and perspectives.

Engagement can be fostered through:

  • guiding questions, collaboration activities, and games
  • peer-to-peer, small group, large group discussions and activities

b. Webinars

Webinars are timely and accessible learning opportunities on specific topics to support professionals at all stages of their career development.

Suggested Structure: 60 to 75 minutes

  • Intro and Outro (5 minutes)
  • Presentation (35-50 minutes)
  • Q&A or discussion (20 minutes)

Suggested approaches include (but are not limited to):

  • Case-Study presentations
  • ‘How-to sessions’ describing a-by-step process of anything related to museum practice.
  • Demo sessions in which participants get to experience your work first-hand.
  • Panel discussion or interview
  • Other: Suggest your own format!

Next Steps

  1. Once you submit your proposal, you will receive an email acknowledging receipt.
  2. Then, proposals will be reviewed by OMA staff.
  3. If your proposal is selected, OMA staff will get in touch with you to discuss your approach and schedule a time for your session. 

Proposals will be reviewed for:

  • Relevance to the theme
  • Relevance to professional development needs of the sector and OMA Members
  • Clarity of content and learning objectives
  • Diversity of perspectives and presenters
  • Practical and relevant examples and how to apply them in multiple settings

The OMA is happy to discuss proposals before they are submitted for review. Contact with your ideas and questions.

Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion

The Ontario Museum Association respects, values and celebrates the unique attributes, characteristics and perspectives that make each person unique. The OMA believes the diversity among the broad range of people and museums we represent is a tremendous strength. We consider diversity and inclusion a driver of institutional excellence and seek out diversity of participation, thought, and action. It is OMA’s aim that members, partners, key stakeholders, and programs reflect and embrace these core values. Read more in the Ontario Museum Association’s Inclusion 2025: A Practitioner’s Guide to Inclusive Museums.

If you require an accommodation in order to participate in any part of this initiative, please let us know how we can support by sending an email to


Submit a Proposal