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
Fundraising
Grantwriting
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
Collaboration
Operations

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 http://www.altamirapress.com/WhatsNew/ for updates.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Connecticut Humanities Council’s Heritage Resource Center (HRC). The HRC Community Center Blog (http://www.ctculture.org/chc/program_resources/hrc/communitycenter.html)
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 http://bit.ly/oIR9zh.”


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.