The Museum Assessment Program has been helping museums of all stripes for 30 years. In that time, the program has worked with 4,270 institutions, 60 percent of which are AAM accredited. As a result of their assessments, nearly all of these institutions have changed at least one practice. As we begin the next 30 years, following is one museum’s MAP story.
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College, CUNY needed a fresh start. In the early 1990s, the museum was downsized due to budget cuts. Over the next few years, the college kept it open but on a reduced budget and staff. As current director and curator Amy Winter explains, “It had been operating primarily as a kunsthalle [a gallery with temporary art exhibits].” However, all was not lost. “The faculty kept pushing the administration to reopen,” she says. The college agreed and hired Winters as the director in 2001. Amy knew that to get her institution on the right track that there would be“many things that needed to be reviewed, revisited and revised.”
To address these concerns, Amy turned to MAP, which she had discovered when she first arrived at the college. “I familiarized myself with grants that support development, conservation and funding through research with help from the college development office.”
The program proved insightful in determining next steps for the revitalized institution. “The key recommendations were to focus on collections use and care,” says Amy. Following their reviewer’s suggestions, the museum swung into action. “We followed up on both by transferring our catalogue from DOS to Windows and will soon be replacing defunct HVAC, lighting and security systems, redesigning the space to maximize storage and exhibition areas, as well as giving a general facelift with new signage, finishes, fixtures, etc.,” she says. Not only did they improve their facilities, but they increased their collections-related staff as well. “We have hired a half-time collection manager and part-time cataloguer.”
“Because of MAP, my organization has flourished,” says Amy. It has helped her staff work more effectively together as a team, and with that, there is nothing they can’t accomplish. “We have gone from an invisible institution on campus and in the public eye to a respected and vital center.”
MAP helps museums achieve excellence and meet standards through self-study and a consultative site visit from an expert peer reviewer. Applications for MAP are available in January. To request an application or learn more about MAP, visit www.aam-us.org/map or contact MAP staff at 202-289-9118.
MAP is administered by the American Association of Museums through a cooperative agreement with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).