Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conference Materials - Greening Your Museum 101/102 - Sarah Brophy

Check out Sarah Brophy's very useful chart on different strategies for greening your museum, available here. The chart includes different activities and methods, as well as possible negative consequences of different environmentally friendly actions you may be considering!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Conference Materials - Long Range Thinking/Planning - Perfect for Small Museums

Lindsey Baker and Mary Alexander have very kindly shared the PowerPoint presentation from their session, "Long Range Thinking/Planning - Perfect for Small Museums."  If you attended the session, this will reinforce what you learned, and if you weren't able attend, see what you missed!  Click here to open it in Google Docs.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Conference Presenter - Dr. Lisa Hayes

In case you weren't able to attend Dr. Lisa Hayes' very well-received session, "Don't Forget the Drama" at the 2011 Winter Conference, check out her blog post on the topic here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Employment Opportunity with Montgomery County Historical Society


The position is open immediately.  The job requirements and personal qualifications are:

Assume overall strategic and operational responsibility for the Society’s staff, programs, volunteers, and execution of its mission

Participate in the creation and implementation of educational and County based historical-type activities and events

Prepare and present the Society’s contributions to the preservation of history in the County at governmental meetings (like the County Council)and professional associations for the purpose of enhancing the Society’s finances and explaining the Society’s role in history preservation

Expand local revenue generating and fundraising activities to support existing program operations

Ability to work well with people, including the staff of 8, volunteers, local politicians and state government representatives and personnel

Some knowledge and experience with financial matters and budgets

Some management experience, preferably in the museum/history field

Ability and willingness to work with others in developing a broader based individual and business membership

Past experience working with a Board of Directors in achieving the goals of the Society and cultivation of existing board member relationships

The successful candidate should have an action-oriented, entrepreneurial, adaptable and innovative approach to business planning.  Salary commensurate with experience and enthusiasm in the field of history.

Interested persons should submit their resume of applicable experience by April 19, 2011 to:

For more detailed information about the Society and its many activities, interested persons should check our website at

Monday, March 14, 2011

SMA and Museums Count!

SMA participated in the IMLS/AAM Museums Count surveys by filling out questionnaires, examining previous survey efforts, taking part in brain storming meetings and reviewing drafts of questions.  It is important to note that the Museum County census is truly aimed at attempting to identify all museums in America . This will help museums’ case that we deserve and need critical funding that will enhance our efforts to collect, preserve and display our shared cultural and environmental heritage; in the end, there is only so long that any of us can continue to do more with less.  In addition, SMA was an active participant to ensure that issues critical to small museums were included in the survey and that the survey would be designed with small museums in mind. - Mike DiPaolo, SMA Board President

(From AASLH's Dispatch): 

Last fall, the Institute of Museum and Library Services anounced a contract with The White Oak Institute and the American Association of Museums to develop a web-based census of museums in America , including standard data definitions and the collection of baseline data. I was delighted to be invited to participate on a panel of expert reviewers to help with the project, known as Museums Count. To date we have worked via snail-mail, email, Wiki, and at a recent convening held in Washington , DC .

“To be successful, this effort must engage a broad cross section of museums and provide useful data for practioners, the public, researchers, and policy makers,” said Susan Hildreth, director of IMLS. “Museums Count is an important step toward building a stonger evidence-based story about the integral role museums play in urban and rural communities across the United States .”

Developing a census of history museums is a tough nut to crack for a variety of reasons. First, there are a lot of them. Next, some very small, all-volunteer history museums are not on the radar screen for any of us, including state museum associations. Then there’s the issue of how to define a museum. IMLS authorization has a paragraph that defines a museum (see Sec. 9172. Definitions), then for granting purposes IMLS breaks it down even further to say that a museum must be open to the public a minimum of 120 hours a year.

AASLH has gone round and round for years trying to figure out how to afford to conduct a census of history organizations (not necessarily museums). We even applied for funding to IMLS and NEH, but the project was so large and complicated it didn’t receive funding. This time, with IMLS as a full partner in the project rather than acting as prospetive grantor, I believe developing a census of museums has a real shot.

Developing standard data definitions and collecting data is no walk in the park. The Museums Count panel of experts is making great headway on the data definitions. We haven’t, however, found the magic bullet that will ensure museums complete the data survey and keep it up to date.

The amount of information known about history museums in America is embarrasing. No other segment of the museum community has the problem—why is that? The answer has two parts. First, segments such as children’s museums and science centers are pretty small. It’s a lot easier for their associations to pick up the phone and retrieve data when a few museums simply don’t respond to surveys. Art museums have a different solution —money. There are a lot of art museums, no doubt. But unlike with history museums, states have a real incentive to collect data on art museums because of the federal-state partnership grants that flow from the National Endowment for the Arts. As I always say, when money flows down, data runs up. Does this ring a bell? AASLH and others have been working for years to establish federal-state partnership grants within IMLS, and have made some headway and you can read more on our website

Kudos to IMLS, et al. for this much-needed project. Its success is really up to you. When you get the call from AASLH or IMLS, I beg you to go directly to your computer and complete the data survey. It won’t happen for quite a while, so don’t get too excited. And I know you get lots and lots of surveys. But your participation will be essential if you want good benchmarks, or to be able to respond when a Congressman asks how many people are employed by history museums (or all museums), or when a foundation wants to know how many school children are impacted by museums, or when one of your family members asks how many museums there are in America.

As is true with most things in life, it’s only as good as you make it! Please, help us make the Museums Count data the best that it can be. After all, without data—museums don’t count!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Small Museum of the Month: Fabyan Villa Museum

The Fabyan Villa Museum is the former home of George and Nelle Fabyan, a wealthy progressive couple from Chiocago.  The Fabyans commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to remodel and expand the 1870's farmhouse, which they named the Villa.  A guided tour tells the story of the Fabyan’s lives in Geneva , and reveals the scope of their country estate, Riverbank.  The home is partially furnished, with some spaces used to display their collections and other estate artifacts.   

The Japanese Garden is a historic landscape site, with original and recreated structures.  The Fabyans had the garden designed and installed below the Villa in 1910.  The Garden has undergone extensive renovation since 1972.

Fabyan Villa Museum

Open May 15 to October 15

Public hours—guided tours:
                       Wednesdays, 1-4 p.m.  (last tour 3:30 p.m.)
                       Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4:30 p.m.  (last tour 4 p.m.)
 Tours on the half hour, last 45 minutes
                       Self-guided family tours:
                       June through August, Thursdays 1-4 p.m.

Admission--suggested donation of $2 per adult, $1 per child
Japanese Garden

Open May 1 to October 15

Public hours—self-guided tours:
                       Wednesdays and Sundays 1-4 p.m.

Admission—suggested donation of $1 per  person

Allow 15 to 20 minutes to walk through

What I Learned from Museum Advocacy Day 2011

SMAers Lauren and Lindsey visit their local representative as part of Museum Advocacy Day 2011.

SMA helped sponsor AAM’s 2011 Advocacy Day. A few SMA’ers and I attended. Here are some thoughts I came away with…

What I Learned From Museum Advocacy Day 2011:

  • Advocacy matters. Talking to our legislators at any level of government doesn’t guarantee funding for museums but not talking to them guarantees that they will not know the great work we do, the partnerships we create, the money we generate in our neighborhoods, the educational opportunities we provide, or the cultural heritage we preserve. By talking to them – and talking to them often – they are beginning to understand what a critical role we play in our communities and will help us fight for the funding we need. This was the third year of Museum Advocacy Day, and many attendees told me that some of the people they encountered remembered them from previous years. They felt that our message was beginning to sink in.
  • Lots of people really do care. Being in a room on Capitol Hill with 300 other attendees felt awesome. Walking around the Hill and running into those 300 other attendees felt awesome. Talking to our representative’s aides and finding that they cared was awesome. I couldn’t get over how many people were really interested in museums and what I had to say.
  • Both a lone voice and a big group are important. I quickly realized that each attendee needed to be both about the bigger message and selfish at the same time.  It’s vital to tell my museum’s story, to invite legislators to my museum, and to keep them informed about my museum. By connecting to those legislators in a group – be it other staff, volunteers, board members, members, educators, other museums, companies we partner with, etc – we were a real show of force and made a big impact. By having a focused message to drive home (e.g. sustaining IMLS funding, including museums in the reauthorization of ESEA, etc) and by connecting that message to personal anecdotes and economic impact statements, we were concise and powerful.
  • Advocating is easy. While it was a bit nerve-wracking to enter those marbled halls, everyone I spoke to was polite and responded well to our message. It helped that I had looked up my representatives’ websites ahead of time to see what they cared about and figured out how I could match their interests. Now that it’s over, I can follow up with emails and phone calls. Pretty straightforward. (Although I will admit that I was pretty tired from my six meetings with representatives from both Maryland and Tennessee – but a good tired.)
  • Don’t expect any actual answers. First, I spoke only to aides (who, granted, are the eyes and ears of the congressmen and women themselves, so I was happy to speak to them). They can’t say what the congressman/woman would choose to do. They couldn’t make any promises. But – they could relay what we thought, share the information packet we provided, and be a cheerleader for us behind the scenes. And they might take us up on our offer to contact us with any additional questions or concerns.
  • is invaluable. Sorry for the shameless plug, but seriously, the site really simplifies the process, provides the reference materials I needed, and helps me reach my federal level representation whenever I want.  
  • It’s not over. Just because I went once doesn’t mean I don’t need to go back next year (or sooner). Just because I spoke with my congressmen and women doesn’t mean I don’t need to speak to my city council members, my county executive, my state senators and my delegates. And just because I spoke to them doesn’t mean I don’t have an obligation to encourage others to speak to them too. 

What’s Next from SMA?

  • We’re going to discuss what you told us at the roundtables during the conference. Not there? Have something more to add? Email us at
  • We’re going to revamp the website ( We’ll be adding materials about advocacy on the local level and geared towards small museums during the next few months. We’ll also link to resources provided by other organizations’ sites, as there is a lot of good stuff out there now.
  • We’re going to help raise awareness of the importance of small museums. We’ll keep you updated as we figure out new ways to do so. Have an idea? Share it at

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Employment Opportunity with Historic Germantown

Historic Germantown (HG) located in Northwest Philadelphia, PA
Position Available:  Executive Director

For over three decades, Germantown’s historic sites and cultural organizations have worked together to further their collective and individual interests. The group can point to great results of its collective volunteer efforts: unified programming across sites, school programs, public events spanning multiple sites, significant funds raised, an engaged community, joint marketing, professional development, etc.  The time has come to take this success to the next level by forming a stronger, unified HG with professional staff to harness collective resources even further. As the “brand manager,” HG’s charge will be to raise Historic Germantown’s profile as a destination and to facilitate the development of ‘product’ in order to attract additional visitors and resources to its 15 member organizations.

The organization’s first Executive Director will have the opportunity to build an organization as a national model.  The ideal candidate will implement this vision in ways that include: raising the visibility of Historic Germantown as a regional and national resource; raising funds for marketing and joint programming; advocating for Historic Germantown as a destination; helping members build and market the HG brand (; capitalizing on and exploring economies of scale for combining resources; and working with a new board of directors and hiring permanent and consulting staff toward the goal of creating a compelling and cohesive visitor experience of Historic Germantown member sites.

Skills and experience: The Executive Director will be expected to have successfully managed both programs and staff in the nonprofit arts and culture, education or tourism field; exhibit financial and business acumen; possess strong marketing skills; have demonstrated successful growth of a collaborative or regional organization; and gained a high level of respect earned from a working relationship with key leaders in the cultural and philanthropic community in Philadelphia.  An advanced degree is preferred.  Salary commensurate with experience.

Interested candidates are asked to submit a letter of interest and resume electronically to search consultant Lee van de Velde at

Employment Opportunity with Gaithersburg Community Museum

Site Name and Address: Gaithersburg Community Museum
Position Title: Community Museum Coordinator
Educational Requirements: Requires a four-year college degree or equivalent combination of education and experience working with small museums. 
Experience Required: Knowledge of museum collection software, archival processes and techniques, artifact and archival research, display design, writing for exhibits and brochures, event planning, and grant writing is preferred.  
Position Description: The City of Gaithersburg Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture is seeking a dynamic, creative, and energetic individual to serve as the Gaithersburg Community Museum Coordinator.  The Museum Coordinator is responsible for maintaining a safe and secure facility, assisting internal and external customers, providing information and services, developing exhibits, managing museum collections, providing tours, and scheduling and coordinating volunteer efforts, programs, events, and rentals.
Other pertinent information: Museum Hours are Thursday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and during special events. This is a 25/hrs/wk part time position. 
Compensation: $16+ per hour, depending on qualifications and experience.  Benefits are not available with this position
Application Requirements (resume, cover letter, salary requirements, writing sample?): Please apply through Human Resources at
Contact Name: Denise Kayser,, 301-258-6394
Title: Cultural Arts Director
Where to send application packet (e-mail address, street address, fax?): Apply via Human Resources at
Is there a closing date? When should this listing be deleted from the site?  Please post for 30 days