Museum online presence is not a new area of museum work, and yet it is widely considered a fledgling or niche area. The physical aspects of a museum traditionally receive more staff attention and a larger amount of the operating budget than its online counterpart.
Sharing museum objects online is a practice most museums are implementing on a regular basis. However, with the evolution of social media, digital user expectations, and museum collections management systems (CMS), it’s not always easy to know where, what, and how to share. This post will provide basic guidelines for sharing digital objects from the museum CMS in museum social media.
The fallow months of winter are usually the best time for museums to perform museum grant writing and planning. Many funding agencies have refreshed their grant requirements and deadlines for the upcoming year, and many of the grant applications usually aren’t due until early Spring through to the end of Summer.
In our digital age, museum digitization projects seem to always be on the agenda at museums. Until 100% of museum collections are online, there’s more work to do, and if a museum is in active acquisition there may never be a day when every object of the museum has a digital surrogate online. With so many areas of the museum collection to choose from, how do we begin to prioritize our digitization efforts?
Below are my top 5 prompts to consider when deciding the museum’s next digitization and cataloging project.
For many of the museums I’ve worked in (and with, as a consultant), the development of digital collections was haphazard. The evolution of museum collections management software, digitization technology, and issues such as digital preservation and storage have all contributed to an uneven approach to publishing digital collections online.
Many of the companies known for Museum Collection Management Systems (CMS) were founded in the late-1970s through the 1980s. Collections management system usage became common among museums in the 1990s with wide-spread implementation occurring by the 2000s. Early adopters have likely seen the migration from at least one CMS to another.
Since the Great Recession of 2008, museums of all types have been navigating shaky financial ground. The recession impacted museums on multiple fronts: it shrank endowments, decreased corporate and private donor giving, and depleted financial support from municipal and foundation organizations.
It’s no secret that since The Great Recession of 2008, museums, cultural heritage, and cultural arts organizations in the United States are still suffering financially. For each of these organization types, the expense of owning or leasing a large building, maintaining a staff, and offering compelling programs can make it difficult to survive year to year.
Over the course of the next seven years the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM) will embark on a renovation of its original museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to the tune of $1 billion dollars. NASM is reported to be the most visited museum in the United States and the 3rd most visited in the world, with 8.6 million visitors through their doors in 2017 and hundreds of thousands of digital visitors who frequent NASM’s website and collection search center.
Taking grant writing workshops, attending funding agency webinars, and reading grant writing tips can be incredibly helpful, but sometimes you need a little extra help from a grant specialist. A grant specialist is not just a grant writer, they’re an expert in leading a museum though the entire grant acquisition process.
One of the hardest aspects of the grant acquisition process is finding appropriate funding opportunities that match the museum’s proposed project. Many facets of the grant acquisition process can be taught and replicated, but conducting grant prospect research is an area that will change each time a new project needs funding.
If your museum isn’t applying for grants or hasn’t been successful with previous applications, you need to understand why in order to circumnavigate the roadblock. This is a necessary first step before any grant work can begin. Self-reflection, outside assessment, and solicited expertise are employed whenever a personal or professional roadblock comes up—and the same applies here. It’s time to unblock your writer’s block and get back (or jump in) to grant writing.
Winter is my favorite time to prepare for the year ahead. Regardless of when the fiscal year ends, the end of the calendar year is a natural point in time for us to take stock of the year that’s passed and prepare for the next twelve months. This is an opportune time to review goals for the year ahead and what it will take to get there.
Digitization within museums takes many forms. With the increasing accessibility of 3D digitization methods, it can be difficult to determine the point at which 2-Dimensional (2D) digitization isn’t enough and 3-Dimensional (3D) digitization is needed. However, there is an alternative option for objects that are mostly 2D, but require a more powerful form of digitization.
Tight operation budgets mean limited conference funds and staff have to think hard about which conferences they’re going to attend that year. While there are some ways to alleviate conference attendance cost (as discussed in a previous post How to Conference on a Museum Budget) it’s still going to be a chunk of change.
Attending museum conferences is an important facet of healthy museum operations. Museum professionals need to attend conferences in order to stay abreast of current and forecasted museum issues, learn and gather fresh ideas to bring back to the museum, and network with colleagues to build critical inter-museum partnerships.
I’m pleased to announce that my new book, A Survivor’s Guide to Museum Grant Writing, is now available. Published by Lucidea Press, it will show you how to develop a successful approach to grant writing that increases your chance of grant acquisition success.