Small Museum Association

Small Museums Working Together

2017 Conference Information

33rd Annual Small Museum Association Conference

Sunday, February 19 - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

College Park Marriott, Maryland


The annual SMA conference attracts more than 250 museum professionals, board members, and volunteers from a wide variety of small museums. They attend sessions on topics ranging from collections and education to staffing and board issues. We offer a large Museum Resource Hall and plenty of informal networking opportunities for you to talk with (and get ideas from!) other small museum professionals and volunteers.


Registration is open! Advanced registration rates are available until January 20. Everyone who attends the conference will receive a one-year complimentary membership to the Small Museum Association. To cancel a registration, please contact the registrar at Registrations cancelled up to 2 weeks prior to the conference will be refunded at 50%. Cancellations after this time will not receive a refund.

Schedule and Session Information

This year, the SMA conference will offer sessions that address the theme "All Hands on Deck." Speakers will explore how professional staff, board members and volunteers work together to make small museums thrive. Sunday, February 19 will feature two afternoon workshops as well as a reception in the Resource Hall. On Monday the 20th we will have a keynote address as well as sessions and an evening banquet. Tuesday's half-day program will be composed of a plenary speech and sessions. 


The Small Museum Association Annual Conference will be held at the: 

Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

3501 University Boulevard East

Hyattsville, MD 20783

Phone: 301-985-7300

Hotel Reservations

Click here to book at the special discount rate of $99 per night for SMA Conference attendees. Book by February 3 to receive the discount rate available for the nights of February 18-21. Please note that there is a mixture of king rooms, concierge access rooms, and queen rooms, available on a first-come, first-served basis. You may also call the Marriott directly at 1-800-228-9290 and reference the SMA conference to receive the discount. 

For information about getting the Marriott, including the use of their free shuttle to the College Park Metro stop, click here

Sponsors, Exhibitors, & Advertisers

The SMA Conference offers sponsorship opportunities, a robust Museum Resource Hall, and advertising opportunities in the Conference program. 

Click here for additional information about the Resource Hall, sponsorships, and advertisements.

Email Resource Hall Coordinator John Orr at if you have any questions.


Scholarship applications are due November 13, 2016. The Small Museum Association offers scholarships in honor of two important figures in its history, Lisa Mason-Chaney and Lesley van der Lee. The scholarships named in their honor cover the cost of conference registration, hotel room, meals and a one-year membership in SMA. Anyone affiliated with a museum, library, historical society, or related graduate study program (e.g. Museum Studies, Public History, Library and Information Studies, Historic Preservation) is eligible for these scholarships. This includes full-time or part-time employees, board members, students, interns, and volunteers. Past conference attendees are encouraged to apply, but previous winners are not eligible.

The Small Museum Association also partners with several other museum organizations to offer additional scholarships to the Conference. Applicants are automatically considered for the scholarships for which they qualify.


By sending in a completed application, applicants are indicating that they will be able to attend the conference if awarded a scholarship. If you are awarded a scholarship and turn it down or do not attend the conference you may not be eligible for a scholarship in the future. Scholarship recipients are asked to assist the conference staff during the conference; information on specific expectations will be communicated after the selection process is complete.

How to Apply

The application form is available on the Scholarships and Awards page. Applicants should be prepared to complete the application form and provide a letter of recommendation from a supervisor or academic advisors and a current resumé. Email any questions to the scholarship coordinator at

Silent Auction

SMA scholarships are supported by the silent auction that takes place at the Conference. Consider donating an item or experience yourself or from your museum to give fellow smaller museum-ers the chance to attend. Email with your donation information.


The Small Museum Association, Inc. (SMA) requests nominations for its annual Small Museum Awards. This is an excellent opportunity to acknowledge the hard work of those in the small museum field. Nominations recognize an individual who has made a significant contribution to a local small museum and/or the small museum field. The awards will be presented at the SMA Annual Conference. This year, two awards will be presented in the following categories:
  • The Hunter-Burley Award for an individual’s outstanding contributions to  the advancement of public access and professional growth for an individual institution;
  • The Small Museum Association Award for an individual’s outstanding contributions to the advancement of funding for, professional growth within, and/or the accessibility of information to the small museum community on a regional or state level.

Click here for the award nomination form.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software