As we reflected on the publication of the Toolkit, we recognized that one of the major challenges facing small museum leaders was not addressed directly in the text.
How do you choose where to put your time, effort and energy?
The Toolkit provides a broad view of all the work you might tackle in your museum, but it doesn't tell you where to start. That choice depends on each individual leader and museum.
So we decided to do a series of conference sessions called Small Museum Leadership Considered to provide a quick way to make choices. (Our next session will be at the American Association for State and Local History conference, Friday, Sept. 20, 4 p.m.)
We developed a four-part prioritization tool to be used in those sessions that asks you to consider how the projects ahead of you will help you to...
When we used this tool at sessions at AAM in 2012 and 2013, we found that a majority of the audience identified developing audiences and solidifying your reputation as the key areas they needed to pursue and wanted to discuss with their colleagues. Many fewer people wanted to discuss building an internal coalition or assessment and planning.
Hmmm…why were those externally-focused priorities of greater interest that the internal ones?
- Did we push people to think externally by asking leaders to think about concrete projects instead of their overall organization?
- Do small museum leaders really need to reflect more on external issues?
- Are the internal issues just too challenging to face?
What do you think?
If the pattern holds out at AASLH, then we have an interesting conundrum. Do we give you more of what you want? Do we put you in touch with more resources to help you with your audience and your reputation? Or do we try to help you face the tough stuff – working with your volunteers, staff and board to pursue a united vision? Or do we focus on the balance among these four areas as the best way to move small museums forward?
Stacy Klingler currently serves local history organizations as the Assistant Director of Local History Services at the Indiana Historical Society. She began her career in museums as the assistant director of two small museums, before becoming director of the Putnam County Museum in Greencastle, Ind. She was chair of the AASLH Small Museums Committee (2008-2012) and attended the Seminar for Historical Administration in 2006. While she lives in the history field, her passion is encouraging a love of learning in any environment.