The roots of efforts to organize Texas museum professionals can be traced back to March, 1939 when individuals from around the state met in San Antonio to establish the Southwestern Conference of Museums. Among the museums represented were the Texas Memorial Museum, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, San Jacinto Museum, the Alamo Museum, and the Witte Museum. Among the colleges and universities represented were Texas A&M, Baylor University, Southwestern State Teacher's College, and Oklahoma University. Other representatives came from Galveston, Corpus Christi, and New Braunfels. There does not appear to be another concentrated effort to organize the museums in the state until 1960. The program from the 1961 meeting held November 2-4 in Austin was billed as the "Second Annual" Texas Museums Conference with Albert Heine as Conference Chairman. There were no known meetings during 1962 or 1963. However, in 1964 the "Fourth Annual" Texas Museums Conference was held March 13th and 14th at the Fort Worth Children's Museum. The registration fee was $1.00, luncheon was $2.00, and the banquet was $4.50.
In 1966 the first meeting of Texas Institute for Small Museums was held September 30 - October I in Woodville. The 1967 meeting of the Texas Museums Conference was promoted as the "7th Annual" and was held February 16 and 17 at the Fort Worth Children's Museum. Due to problems even then in recognizing the exact date of the origin of the "Conference", the second "7th Annual" Texas Museums Conference was held February 14-17, 1968 at the Strecker Museum in Waco. In 1969 the "8th Annual" Texas Museums Conference was held February 12-14 at Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center, which established the Texas Museums Association. Dues were: Individual - $3.00, Institutional - $5.00, and Student - $1.00. In 1970 the meeting was advertised as the "1st Annual" Texas Museums Association Meeting, March 19-21 at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, after which the first official newsletter was published.
In 1971 the "2nd Annual" Texas Museums Association Meeting was held March 17-19 in Corpus Christi. In 1972 the "3rd Annual" Texas Museums Association Meeting was held March 19-21 at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin. In 1973 the "12th Annual" Texas Museums Association Meeting was held March 2-4 in Houston with 52 in attendance. There were 79 members in the association at that time. In 1974, the "13th Annual" Texas Museums Association Meeting was held in conjunction with the American Association of Museums in Fort Worth, on June 2-6.
There was also a special meeting held in 1974 on November 9th at the Witte Museum in San Antonio where the TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF MUSEUMS was created. The Texas Secretary of State issued a Certificate of Incorporation to the Texas Association of Museums on February 26, 1975. The original purpose of TAM was "the development of lines of mutual communication between museums in and outside the State of Texas and between individuals who are actively involved in museum, or museum-related, employment; to wit, the corporation shall provide appropriate professional assistance and advice to Texas museums and to Texas museum personnel and shall act as a clearing house for information relative to the museum profession in the State of Texas." Apparently this purpose was insufficient for IRS purposes, because on July 16, 1977 the TAM Council amended the Articles of Incorporation "to provide that the purposes of the corporation shall be educational." Shortly thereafter, on August 4, 1977 the IRS granted TAM tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
In 1975 the first Texas Association of Museums Meeting was held March 13-15 at Texas Tech in Lubbock.