The Museum Assessment Program is one of those program that’s been a major benefit to the field for decades, but unless you’ve participated, it’s a mystery. You may have heard how it can transform an organization, move it to the next level of development, or solve a vexing situation. It sounds dramatic, but I’ve seen it happen at both large and small museums who have gone through the process.
So how does this happen? You can find out at a free webinar about MAP on Thursday, November 10 at 3pm Eastern Standard Time presented by the American Association of Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Registration isn’t required but you’ll need to do two steps to join the webinar:
- To see the presentation on your computer, use your internet browser to go to
- To hear the presentation on your phone, call 1 (866) 459-4770 and use participant code 8452132.
The timing is perfect: The next MAP application deadline is December 1. Remember, there are four different types of assessment, including community engagement.
Staff are also available to answer questions about MAP at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-289-9118. Visit http://www.aam-us.org/map for more information about MAP and to access the application.
MAP is administered by the American Association of Museums and supported through a cooperative agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Have you encountered any cases where an organization has been intimidated/discouraged by how far they have to go, rather than confident/encouraged by how far they have already come?
This is Jill from the MAP staff. Generally that isn’t the case because of the way the MAP program is set up. The museum answers a self-study and often they find out they have done more than they thoguht when they reflect on the questions. Then when the peer reviewer comes on site, the peer reviewer is there to be supportive and encouraging and helps break down ways to take the next steps. The reviewer also wrties a fantastic written report often broken down by priority and then follows up with the museum after completing the report.
The prioritized recommendations often include some low cost and “easy” changes so museums can experience quick victories and keep going. There are also a lot of resources included as part of MAP including a Bookshelf, access to webinars, a special MAP online community and access to the AAM Information Center, so museums have built in support throughout the process.
Many museums also report that they’ve made changes while going through the self-study process because something all of the sudden seemed so obvious or achievable while a group of staff and board members were already working together on the self-study. If you have other questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 202.289.9111.
A good reviewer is aware he/she is working with colleagues and peers, and thus needs to conduct the assessment with some humility and not a “know it all” attitude (indeed, most of the time the applicants are quite aware of their shortcomings and need an outside voice to compel an internal action or decision). I try to recognize an organization’s strengths and weaknesses, and temper any recommendations I make based on the organization’s resources and capacity. But even before the Peer Reviewer comes to visit, the organization completes a thorough self-study that’s approved by the director and several board members, so there are no surprises over their current conditions and everyone understands what they’re getting into. Indeed, I find that some museums have already taking steps to address issues they’ve identified in the self-study before I’ve visited–that’s great!