Small Museum Toolkit
As a small museum staff person, you are responsible for a lot, including areas outside of your expertise or training. You need a quick reference that makes the process of becoming a sustainable, valued institution less overwhelming. The Small Museum Toolkit is a collection of six books that serve as a launching point for small museum staff to pursue best practices and meet museum standards.
These brief volumes address governance, financial management, human resources, audience relations, interpretation, and stewardship for small museums and historic sites. The Small Museum Toolkit, written by thirty-four experienced museum professionals, helps you define the questions you should be asking, gives you tools to achieve your goals, and guides you where to go for help.
Books in the Small Museum Toolkit set: Book One – Leadership, Mission, and GovernanceBook Two – Financial Resource Development and ManagementBook Three – Organizational ManagementBook Four – Reaching and Responding to the AudienceBook Five – Interpretation: Education, Programs, and ExhibitsBook Six – Stewardship: Collections and Historic Preservation
Editors: Cinnamon Caitlin-Legukto and Stacy Klingler
Leadership, Mission, and Governance Small Museum Toolkit, Book One
Small museums face the same challenges as large museums on a tighter budget and with fewer resources. Navigating these obstacles requires strong leadership and effective governance. The creation and use of planning documents and a clear mission and vision are essential to pursuing the long-term health of an organization. This book features concise, grounded approaches to finding and articulating the mission and vision of a small museum. Because a few tools have been invaluable to small museum leaders, the book also highlights the MAP and CAP assessment process, accreditation, and provides an overview of the StEPs program.
Financial Resource Development and Management Small Museum Toolkit, Book Two
Small museums must adopt policies of financial responsibility and stability if they are to last. Through an organized commitment to transparency and accountability, small museums can achieve sound financial management just like their larger counterparts. This book offers sample fiscal policies, guides to fundraising plans, and budgeting templates to help small museums manage their money effectively. It also details the fundraising methods available to small museums and how to measure your progress towards funding goals. Lastly, the book surveys many common legal issues relating to small museums as they pertain to financial management and other topics in the series, such as copyright, human resources.
Organizational Management Small Museum Toolkit, Book Three
Effectively managing people, facilities, and partnerships can make or break an institution. Museum operations encompasses responsibility for the maintenance of your structure, the safety of your visitors, and the security of your staff and collections. This behind-the-scenes administrative effort is rarely what calls people to work in museums, but good organizational management keeps your institution functioning smoothly. This book examines how to find and work well with all the people who can contribute daily to the museum: paid staff, volunteers, and interns. It also provides many organizational resources such as an outline for an operations policy manual, sample job descriptions, and a sample partnership agreement.
Reaching and Responding to the Audience Small Museum Toolkit, Book Four
Museums exist to serve their audiences; however, the scope of this charge is constantly being challenged and changed. This book looks at new roles small museums have taken as they find ways to become irreplaceable members of the community, engaging with and advocating for their audience—from large-scale marketing and public relations efforts to welcome signs and entrances. Book Five encourages small museums to examine their audiences and make them comfortable, program to their needs and interests, and spread the word about the museum’s good work. It also features several case studies of successful evaluation programs, sample press releases, accessibility checklists, visitor experience checklists and more.
Interpretation: Education, Programs, and Exhibits Small Museum Toolkit, Book Five
Programs, tours and exhibits are the meat-and-potatoes of what most museums do to meet their missions to educate the public. Interpretation helps make small museums compelling so that the public understands that they are more than a repository of dusty objects. This book considers researching and designing exhibits and best practices for sharing the stories with your audiences. It explores how to orient your organization to be effective interpreters of what you collect, including how to tell engaging stories and how to address difficult issues you may have ignored in the past, like slavery, prejudice and privilege. For the non-historian, it also offers a step-by-step primer on good historical research.
Stewardship: Collections and Historic Preservation Small Museum Toolkit, Book Six
Proper collections care, planning, and conservation is an essential responsibility for a museum of any size, but funding for these obligations often falls to the bottom of funding priorities because its constituencies are the quietest. Small museums need affordable ways to provide basic care for their collections and the tools to lobby for additional funds for the long-term health of collections. Small museums often do not have staff expertise on the maintenance and preservation of these large and expensive pieces of history. This book offers practical tips for collections care, including preservation strategies for historic properties and a primer on managing potential harms to your artifacts.