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.
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.
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.
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.
To those who love and work in institutions that promote art, history, and culture, the relevance of those institutions seems quite obvious. So too, does the positive impact a museum and library can have on an individual. Yet, seemingly every year there’s a flurry of talks and articles that ask “Are Museums and Libraries Still Relevant?”
Last week we explored the topic of museums as cultivators of empathy. Empathy was selected as a trend by the Center for the Future of Museum’s TrendWatch 2017, and last week’s post reviewed how museums are beginning to grapple with empathy as a part of their identity. This post follows up on the topic with resources and a list of actions suggesting how museums can encourage an identity of empathy.
Political and social justice awareness across the United States, England, and Canada has increased markedly since the 2016 US elections. The exploration of empathy (its presence and deficit) has grown with that awareness and many articles, conferences, and workshops have begun to explore empathy within personal and professional spheres. Specifically, museums as cultivators of empathy is a topic that has steadily garnered attention and discussion, and shows no signs of slowing down.
During the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and 1970s a cultural and legislative transformation occurred that began the effort to protect minorities and persons with disabilities against discrimination, and advocate for their equal right to participate in all aspects of life. There is still much to be done in both the United States and Canada, and the museum world is not exempt from this work.