VRA 32, A Visual Approach

Dear colleagues,

VRA 32, A Visual Approach continues the rich tradition of offering exceptional opportunities to engage with VRA colleagues around inspiring programs, speakers and special events.  On behalf of the Executive Board, I am pleased to welcome you to A Visual Approach, the 2014 Visual Resources Association’s Annual Conference, held in Milwaukee “Cream City,” Wisconsin, March 12-15, 2014.

A Visual Approach,” an expression borrowed from aviation meaning a pilot’s visual approach to the airport for landing as opposed to one using navigation instruments, is a metaphor for our gathering this year.  Airplanes were at one time cutting edge technology that shortened the distances between people and opened new destinations.  Like modern aviation, digital technologies are bringing people and ideas together in ever expanding ways in our learning environments.  Our conferences are our visual approach to the wider world of the profession, with new ideas and insights coming into clear view.

The program for our Milwaukee conference is rich, offering a variety of topics around our shared interests.  Conference organizers, Steven Kowalik and Cindy Abel Morris, working with the local arrangements group, have planned an informative and stimulating program of sessions, meetings, and entertaining events. The conference program offers popular formats as well as exciting new conference experiences, with highlights including:

  • Distinguished speakers:  Philip Yenawine, co-founding Director of Visual Thinking Strategies, a visual literacy curriculum used in schools across the US and abroad, and Matthew Israel, Director of the The Art Genome Project at Art.sy, an ongoing study of the characteristics that distinguish and connect works of art
  • Relevant and thought-provoking sessions and case studies on subjects covering international copyright, Digital Asset Management and rights management, video/film resource management, visual literacy, personal digital archiving, basic and advanced cataloging and much more
  • Unconventional VRACamp, based on the unconference model of an informal participant-driven workshop that seeks to build community among curators, librarians, archivists, technologists, vendors, and more and provide a forum for spontaneous conversation, the launching of innovative ideas, and the sowing of seeds for future collaboration
  • Critical skill-building workshops (from FREE to very affordable) covering conference presentation and programming skills, embedded metadata, the Horizon Report, Omeka, and Adobe Lightroom
  • Stimulating events such as Opening Reception, New Members and First Time Attendees Breakfast, Members and Awards Dinner, Sponsor’s event with Poster Session, Business Meeting Breakfast in the elegant spaces of the historic Pfister Hotel
  • Memorable off-site entertainment planned by the Local Committee and designed to highlight the lively culture of Milwaukee
  • Traditional mainstays continue with Committee and Chapter meetings, as well as Special Interest/Special User Group meetings and Birds of a Feather luncheons
  • Fascinating FREE morning architectural walking tours with local guides and experts, conveniently scheduled so as not to conflict with the conference programs

Our conference hotel is the historic Pfister Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, just blocks from train and bus stations, both of which connect up with the airport.  Built in 1893 as a “Grand Hotel of the West,” it features a much acclaimed Victorian art collection on display throughout the ornate and elegant lobby, meeting rooms and corridors.  The Pfister’s “Artist in Residence Program” is the only one in the United States.  Attendees will have the opportunity to visit the studio of the current artist, Stephanie Barenz, who is also an expert on the hotel’s collection and architecture.  The hotel is a ten minute walk from Santiago Calatrava’s dazzling Milwaukee Art Museum.  Also nearby you will find an interesting collection of theaters, breweries, civic and industrial buildings, great examples of the Germanic, Flemish, and Richardson Romanesque architectural styles. There are unique restaurants in every direction within walking distance from the hotel, offering combinations of local Wisconsin beers, bratwursts, sausages, and cheeses, all extremely affordable.

Join us for an exciting conference in mid-March in lively, historic Milwaukee.

Jolene de Verges, President
Visual Resources Association