Museum Assessment Program Applications Due Soon!

Flavia Cigliano, Executive Director of the Nichols House Museum, has participated in the MAP program four times! She encourages you to apply now:

I noticed that the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) has another application deadline coming up, at the first of next month. I know I’ve been quoted as a strong supporter of MAP in many vehicles before, but I wanted to send one more personal message to small museums to consider a MAP application. It did wonders for our museum, the Nichols House in Boston.

We did our first MAP in 2000, and have done a total of four, the most recent in 2010. Our results speak to the value of the program.

Since that first MAP, we have been able to more than triple our staff, receive 4 grants from the IMLS ( 2 CPS; 2 MFA) 5 Preservation Assistance Grants from the NEH, and numerous grants from state agencies and private foundations when previously the Nichols House had received less than a handful. We have catalogued, digitized, and put on-line our entire collection (previously undocumented). With recommendations from our Institutional MAP, we developed our first strategic plan, setting the ground work for considered long term planning for the museum.

MAP is a marvel. It made us better stewards of the historic treasure we are charged with managing, made our board better able to fulfill their responsibilities, and made Nichols House a more important entity in the community. MAP helped make our museum investable. I cannot overestimate its impact on our museum.

The deadline is December 1, 2011.
To find application materials, go to:

Association of Academic Museums and Galleries

Here's a message from Jill Hartz, President of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG) about the value of joining this organization that focuses on college and university museums, many of which share the virtue of being small.

The AAMG represents all of our nation's academic museums, galleries and collections. AAMG members - now approaching 1000! -- come from the fields of anthropology, art, history, natural history, and science, from large research universities and small undergraduate colleges. We are committed to modeling and identifying best practices, professional development, educational activities and advocacy.

If you are not yet a member of the AAMG, please join. Our membership dues are reasonable -- $40 for individuals and $100 for institutions. Student memberships are even less. You can sign up here and enjoy these great benefits:

• Members-only site on our webpage with model forms and reports

• Networking with your academic colleagues

• Access to our mailing list of academic museums

• Guidance and support on request from board members and regional representatives

• Opportunity to serve on the AAMG Board

• Participation in our annual conference

Your membership makes us stronger and, in doing so, helps us strengthen the mission and health of our constituents. Please join today!

You can join on-line with a credit card or download a form for your institution's budget office to process.

The AAMG is at the forefront of our profession in promoting the educational value of academic museums and the importance of the collections in our care for our students and for posterity. Your supporting membership strengthens this endeavor and is most appreciated.

Getting Started

AAM's Center for the Future of Museums has posted an interesting blog about how to start a brand new small museum. Check it out!

The Small Museum Toolkit: An "At Your Fingertips" Resource for Small Museums

Small museums are faced with the enormous task of matching the responsibilities of a large museum--strategic planning, securing and managing human and financial resources, stewardship of collections (including historic buildings), providing excellent exhibitions, programs, and publications, and responding to changing community and visitor needs--all with more limited human and financial resources. Small museum staff (paid or unpaid) often fulfill key responsibilities outside their areas of expertise or training. These dedicated individuals need a quick reference, written with their needs in mind, to make the process of becoming a sustainable, valued institution less overwhelming.

The Small Museum Toolkit is a single collection of six short, readable books that provides the starting point to realize key responsibilities in the small museum environment. Each book stands alone, but as a collection they represent a single resource to jumpstart the process of pursuing best practices and meeting museum standards.

This six-book series will address the following topics and features contributions from over 30 authors, most of whom are small museum practitioners:

Mission & Governance
Small Museum Advocacy
Mission and Vision Development
Strategic Planning
The Role of the Director
Governance Issues
Assessment Tools and Standards

Development & Financial Management
Financial Management
Legal Issues

Audience & Evaluation
Marketing & Communication
Accessibility & Visitor Services
Local Advocacy
Community Engagement
Audience Research

Organizational Management
Human Resources
Volunteer Programs
Internship Programs

Interpretation: Education, Programs & Exhibits
Program Design
Exhibit Design & Fabrication
Researching Exhibits
Interpreting Difficult Topics
Tour Design

Stewardship: Collections & Historic Preservation
Collections Care
Collections Management
Collection Policy Development
Collection Planning
Conservation Planning
Historic Preservation Strategies

Co-editors Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko and Stacy Lynn Klingler bring a "from the trenches" perspective on small museum management. Catlin-Legutko has worked in small museums for over ten years and is currently CEO of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. Previously she was the director of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, a National Historic Landmark site and small museum, in Crawfordsville, Indiana. While there, she led the organization to the National Medal for Museum Service.
Klingler is a past director and assistant director of several small museums and is now the Assistant Director of Local History Services at the Indiana Historical Society. She is the current chair of AASLH's Small Museums Committee.
The Small Museum Toolkit will be available in late 2011 from AltaMira Press. Check for updates.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Connecticut Humanities Council’s Heritage Resource Center (HRC). The HRC Community Center Blog (
addresses the issues that arts, cultural, and heritage organizations struggle with every day, sharing timely news, information, reviews, and tools you and your institution can use. Sign up to receive HRC updates by visiting”

The HRC thanks Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko for serving as guest author for the following entry. Cinnamon has worked in small museums for over ten years and is currently CEO of the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. Previously Cinnamon was the director of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum, a National Historic Landmark site and small museum, in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where she guided the museum to a 2008 IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service--the nation's highest honor for museums and libraries.

Wanted: Small Museums with Big Voices

The Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project has been studing non-profits and museums in particular since 2003. They would like more volunteers from the small museum sector to fill out their surveys (2-3 times a year) in order to research how this portion of the non-profit sector is fairing. Participating museums can see the research results and network with each other.

Sign up at:

For more information contact Philip Katz of the American Association of Museums at or go to

Let's Move Museums

A new program called Let's Move Museums was launched at the 2011 AAM Meeting with a video introduction from First Lady Michelle Obama. Part of the Let's Move initiative, it is dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.

There are an estimated 17,500 museums in the U.S. which collectively host at least 850 million visits each year. Through the Let’s Move! Museums initiative, museums, zoos, public gardens, historic sites and science and technology centers can join the call to action in fighting childhood obesity.

Small museums, with their family and community focus, are a perfect venue for this program. Here are some of the ways your small museum can participate:

- Create interactive experiences that promote healthy eating and physical activity.
- Offer programming that includes healthy food choices and physical activity with emphasis on afterschool, summer and school-based programs.
- If you have food service, make sure your menu offers food options that reflect healthy choices and include interpretation about healthy food choices in your eating area.

For more information and to sign up to become a Let's Move! Museum visit

Let's hear from small museums that have joined the program and what they are doing.

Review of AAM Session: And Other Duties as Assigned

Alison Wright, one of the four SMAC-AAM Annual Meeting Fellowship awardees has written this review of the SMAC-AAM sponsored session:

“And Other Duties as Assigned: Prioritizing Collections Management in Small Museums” – A Review of the Session Presented at the American Association of Museums Conference in Houston, Texas
-Alison Wright, Curator/Collections Manager Montgomery County Historical Society, Crawfordsville, Indiana

As a small museum professional, the title of this session produced a well-deserved chuckle out of me. We museum folk—both small and large institution alike—are well-versed in wearing many hats. I would like to point out that we at small museums wear many pairs of gloves as well: white gloves when handling artifacts are certainly a given. Additionally, there are work gloves that we don when clearing foliage and other natural debris left behind after wicked spring-time storms from around our historic structures, and for any small construction projects that we undertake. Likewise, there are yellow rubber gloves we wear when, for example, we must clean the one and only staff/public restroom at our site! These clearly fall under the “other duties as assigned.”

This presentation, I was pleased to discover, focused strictly on collections. During this session, I found myself equally nodding along in agreement and furiously taking notes to what Lindsay Borst, Sarah Price and Lisa Worley were explaining. I, too, am involved with a digitization project at my museum, so it was gratifying to learn from these ladies that my process was on par with theirs. I could also relate to some unanticipated outcomes, such as the example of becoming a “tech expert” during the endeavor.

Listening to the Managing Expectations portion of the session, Lisa’s quantitative finding of three hours of staff time per object including accessioning, cataloguing, photographing, etc. was one of those “ah-ha” moments for me. It provided a small sense of relief to understand my backlog!

As we are currently experiencing some staffing changes at my organization, we must tap other resources for volunteer help. The panel’s suggestions and experiences in their Staffing portion will be considered. Lindsay’s case in point about non-museum trained people moving furniture as if it were “regular” furniture sounded quite familiar. I have established those volunteers with whom I feel comfortable around artifacts. Sarah discussed the pros and cons of University student assistants; we had a very successful internship relationship with our local college, but sadly the state funding expired last year. This discussion reminded me that we need to reinvigorate the program and pursue financial support from another source.

This session was highly educational, providing some ideas to explore, and satisfying, reassuring me that many of us have the same problems! The structure of having a single PowerPoint presentation with the three panelists contributing in a rotating fashion worked quite well for this topic. My attendance at this session, as well as the conference as a whole, was truly valuable.

Cloud Computing?

The Nonprofit Technology Network shares an article about the benefits of cloud computing for small nonprofits:

Some of the benefits of transitioning to cloud computing are that it is less expensive than maintaining a server and that it can increase productivity and collaboration among staff and volunteers. In many ways small museums are better equipped to take advantage of new technologies and platforms because they have more flexibility and can quickly adapt.

Along these same lines, are you interested in learning a new tool for presentations that can replace the traditional PowerPoint? Try experimenting with Prezi: The Zooming Presentation Editor:

It's easier than you think!

Contributed by Sarah Parsons
Assistant Director, Information Center
American Association of Museums

February 18th!

Take action by February 18th for these two great small museum resources:

“The MAP program has been the key to the success the Nichols House Museum has enjoyed over the past 10 years. The trustees, staff and executive director use the MAP reports extensively for institutional planning.” - Flavia Cigliano, Executive Director, Nichols House Museum

The Museum Assessment Program (MAP) is an affordable way to strengthen your museum and achieve excellence. Within a year your museum can conduct a self-study, consult with a museum professional and gain the tools to become a stronger institution. MAP is open to small and mid-sized museums of all types, including zoos, aquariums, public gardens, history museums, art museums and children’s museums. It is free for museums with operating expenses under $125,000. Apply for one of three MAP assessments: Organizational, Collections Stewardship, or Community Engagement.

Apply now at The postmark deadline is Feb. 18th.

MAP staff are available to answer any questions at or 202-289-9118. The annual application is supported through a cooperative agreement between AAM and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


Engage Families: Ohio
Friday, March 4, 2011 - 8:45AM to 4:00PM
Ohio Historical Society
American House Hotel in the Ohio Village
1982 Velma Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43211

The USS Constitution Museum and the Ohio Historical Society are excited to present a FREE daylong, IMLS sponsored workshop for museum professionals that will explore how your museum can serve present and future family audiences. You are invited to this hands-on, minds-on workshop that offers case studies, innovative ideas, current research and an action plan for creating engaging and educational programming for a multi-generational audience.

Please register by Friday, February 18, 2011

For more information and to register, go to and click on 'Current Initiatives.'

SMAC-AAM Fellowships to attend the Annual Meeting in Houston

Join your small museum colleagues at the 2011 AAM Annual Meeting in Houston TX, May 22 to 25

The Small Museum Administrators Committee of AAM is offering four $750 fellowships to help cover the cost of conference registration, ticketed events and travel and hotel. Fellowship recipients will be eligible to register for the conference at AAM’s early bird rate.

* Applicants must be current SMAC-AAM members and be a full-time paid or unpaid employee of a museum with a budget of $350,000 or less. (You can join at the time of application.)
* Only one applicant per museum per year is eligible.

To apply, mail three complete sets of the following materials, postmarked by February 18th, to:

Janice Klein
SMAC-AAM Fellowship Chair
1103 East Redondo Circle
Tempe AZ 85282

• A letter (no more than 2 pages) which discusses your current responsibilities, activities (previous workshops, conferences, professional service) and career goals, and indicates how attendance at the AAM conference will benefit both you and your museum,
• A current resume,
• A brochure from your museum and proof of museum's budget size, and
• A letter of support from your institution (i.e. board member, executive director).
Make sure your letter includes contact address, e-mail and telephone number.

Remember: Send, by mail, three complete sets of required application materials postmarked by February 18,2011 to:

Janice Klein
SMAC-AAM Fellowship Chair
1103 East Redondo Circle
Tempe AZ 85282

Contact Janice Klein, SMAC-AAM Fellowship Chair,, or

In addition to the annual celebration of Small Museums Day on Monday, May 23, special sessions for small museums include:
- Success in a Development Office of One
- Planning Tomorrow’s Collections Today: Collections Plans for Small Museums
- And Other Duties as Assigned: Prioritizing Collections Management in Small Museums
- Beyond Quill Pens and Butter Churns: Integrating Historical Thinking in the 21st Century
- No Problem! Technological Solutions to Museum Work from $0 to $100
- New and Creative Ways for Small Museums to Host and Produce Traveling Exhibitions
- Pushing the Envelope: Challenges for the First Collections Professional in a Small Museum