under construction - Jan 2019
How do you keep yourself and your team inspired? How do you keep up with trends, issues, standard practices and ground-breaking projects? Where do you send your staff for training and professional development? I've worked with several different frameworks, systems and vocabularies, and I am constantly scanning the field for ideas, people, and projects to inform the work that I do, and to help my clients find information, ideas or resources they might need. This page is meant to provide a portal to useful resources. It is aimed primarily at U.S. audiences, but some of the most interesting sources and thinking originates outside the U.S.
My Top Three books for museum leaders
Jim Collins Good To Great & Good to Great and the Social Sectors. While there are many approaches to organizational direction setting, this one, with its “hedgehog” approach to finding and depicting your organizations’ sweet spot can be very useful. The one diagram, once you have developed it, can be an outstanding guidepost for work at all levels from the board to each department and functional area.
Randi Korn Intentional Practice for Museums. This new book asks what is the impact you hope to have for your audiences? And it provides a blueprint for finding, sorting through, and articulating the answer as well as for evaluating and learning from the results.
Beverly Serrell Exhibit Labels. While this may seem specialized, it’s actually about the one thing that CAN take your museum from good to great - clear thinking about your big idea, creating interpretive labels that work for visitors - this requires clear thinking, a solid decision making process that insures accurate content, the hard work of writing interesting labels, and decent information design that serves the visitor. You don’t have to read the whole thing, but understanding the rigor needed will help every museum leader hire the right people and also ask the right high level questions - what’s this actually about? and why should anyone care?
It’s no coincidence that the two museum books are written by experience visitor evaluation and research professionals. Setting big goals is critical, but so is testing with visitors to be sure you’re meeting these goals. There are many other books on leadership, change management, outstanding and exemplary work in many museums and related organizations, but these three are the ones I go back to, use and apply.
What museum leaders read
In addition to the specialized literature related to their specific fields and types of museums, there are some major online resources that museum leaders tend to monitor. A 2017 survey of people on the mailing list of the Informal Learning Review, combined with many conversations with museum leaders yields the following list of go-to resources that many read:
VISITOR AND AUDIENCE RESEARCH
Delivering our mission and reaching for our vision requires us to reach people. Understanding who our visitors are, what motivates them to visit or otherwise engage with us and our programs helps us meet people where they are and let them know in language they use and respond to what we have for them.
Most museum people find that face to face interactions - conferences, workshops and peer or cohort-based groups - are their most important and gratifying sources of inspiration and information. Professional networks matter to museum people. Choosing which organizations to join, become involved in at the institutional level as well as the personal level is an important decision which should be made based on the needs of the organization, its' leadership and staff. The range of offerings of the professional organizations can feel overwhelming to newcomers to the field or to those expanding their responsibilities. That said, there are categories of organizations
As you consider which organizations to join, you might start with this resource https://www.fastcompany.com/90234459/consider-these-3-things-before-you-join-a-professional-association. After that, more specifically, think about what kind of a person you are and what type of networks are most important to you. If you are an emerging museum professional (student or first five or so years of working in museums, or coming into museums from another field), you might start with local networks of professionals in your general area, and also consider state and regional organizations. Attending local and regional meetings in person is often considerably less expensive than attending national meetings, which tend to be more expensive in terms of both time and money. That said, you may find that the national and international organizations enew, blogs and digital professional development is a bargain.
CATEGORIES OF PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
LARGE NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: AAM, ACM, ASTC
SPECIALIZED ORGANIZATIONS OF MUSEUM LEADERS: ASMD, NSCA
SPECIALIZED NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: AAAM, AASLH, EDCOM, NAME, SPNCH
ACADEMIC/MUSEUM ORGANIZATIONS - CAA, CMA (part of AAA),
REGIONAL MUSEUM ORGANIZATIONS: AMM, MAAM, MPMM, NEMA, SEMC, WMA
STATE AND LOCAL MUSEUM ORGANIZATIONS
LOCAL NETWORKS AND ORGANIZATIONS
Other organizations with overlap: AZA, APGA, NAI, NCPH,
Large National Organizations
American Alliance of Museums (AAM) https://www.aam-us.org/
AAM is the largest and most visible national association of museums and museum professionals, and it is the accrediting body of Museums in the United States. AAM has three tiers of institutional membership, as well as individual membership. It's many professional networks are important professional "homes" to many museum staff, who only have to pay for their affiliation with the networks. The AAM website provides access to a wealth of free resources for members, including all kinds of information needed to develop core documents for new or formalizing museums, resources on grant opportunities, links to the many professional networks and resources. Anyone new to the museum field or to museum leadership should explore the website and use the documents there as a resource for learning about museums, what they do, how they are run and governed.
AAM's most significant resources include
the annual meeting http://annualmeeting.aam-us.org/
Job HQ, one of several national (and to some extent international) sites where museum jobs are advertised https://aam-us-jobs.careerwebsite.com/
AAM's two main electronic newsletters https://www.aam-us.org/programs/about-aam/e-newsletters/ are widely received. AAM has various social media accounts as well.
AVISO (e-mailed to members weekly)
DISPATCHES FROM THE FUTURE OF MUSEUMS (emailed weekly, by free subscription https://aam-us.us18.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=2605bbc11e6752de338ce7e61&id=f06e575db6 )
Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
ASTC https://www.astc.org is a lively organization of Science Centers and Science Museums. Although it has tended to focus less on the issues of collections holding organizations, there tends to be more programming around a wider array of programmatic issues and they have been active in looking at the social and cultural value of science museums. ASTC provides a wide array of webinars and digital learning opportunities.
ASTC’s most significant resources include
The annual meeting
ASTC digital newsletter The Informer
ASTC Communities of Practice
ASTC also publishes a glossy magazine, Dimensions
Association of Children's Museums (ACM)
American Association of State and Local History (AASLH)