Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring museums, ideas, and conversation

Month: January 2011 (page 3 of 6)

Museum Meetup in Worcester!

Just reminding everyone that there will be a NEMA informal meetup at O’Connor’s Restaurant and Bar in Worcester next Monday.

4:00 – 6:00 p.m on Monday, January 24, directly following the Orphans in the Collections Workshop at the Higgins Armory.

Any Tufts students planning on going? Let us know, and we’ll coordinate for a carpool.

AAM Webinar on Social Media and Museum Advocacy

In early December, AAM sponsored a webinar on social media and museum advocacy. Led by Stephanie Vance of Advocacy Associates, the presentation provided basic lessons in how to use newer tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to cultivate supporters and engage elected officials. Here are some of Vance’s suggestions:

Blogs: If you’re writing on behalf of an organization, Vance advises avoiding politically partisan messages, but there’s no reason you can’t talk about legislation that affects your museum or ask your audience to let their representatives know how important your museum is to them. She cites I Heart Art: Portland, Small Museum
Association
, and Exploratorium Explainers as examples of blogs that do a good job informing and inspiring their audience beyond just marketing.

Twitter: Search for your museum’s name to see who is already talking about you, and respond to those people. Cultivate followers and let them know about issues your museum is facing, locally or nationally. You can follow AAM (@AAMers) to get advocacy action alerts that you can share. Sign up for your legislators’ Twitter feeds and tag them in relevant messages. For example, Michael Capuano (@mikecapuano) is the congressional representative in Tufts’ district, so you might ask your audience to retweet a message asking him to support FY12 funding for IMLS.

LinkedIn Connect to your city councilors, congressional representatives, mayor’s office, etc. and see if you share any 2nd-degree connections. You may find that a former classmate or colleague has a connection that could help your message find its way to a legislator’s desk more quickly.

Facebook The fastest-growing demographic on Facebook are users who are 35 and older, Vance says, and more and more legislators are using it as a major communication tool. You can “like” your legislators’ pages and post on their walls about upcoming events and community partnerships. Search for your museum on Flickr or YouTube and repost links to any user-generated content that shows their constituents are engaging with your organization.

Once you get the hang of in social media as a way to communicate with legislators and cultivate community supporters, make sure you teach these tools to volunteer committees or friends’ groups who are already valuable “real-world” advocates for your museum.

Speak Up for Museums is AAM’s museum advocacy initiative. Check there for more tips and webinars, and to find out more about AAM’s Museum Advocacy Day, February 28 and March 1 in Washington, D.C. You can view a recording of this webinar as part of AAM’s advocacy trainings website.

Kris Bierfelt is a student in the Tufts Museum Studies certificate program, and works as a freelance writer and editor.

Know Your Professional Organizations: AAM’s Emerging Museum Professionals

Next up in our series of know your professional organizations, we have a sub-category of last week’s featured organization: the AAM’s Emerging Museum Professionals.

Now, not all of you are just emerging. Some of you have been out there in the ranks for years. But even if you’re fully emergent, you can surely keep an eye on this group, because they do great things. (For that matter, the definition of an EMP is someone who’s been in the field for less than ten years.)

Look over the website – there are resources there for the national organization, such as the EMP blog, Facebook page, and listserv.

What you will find most helpful, however, is the local Boston group. It’s starting up again after a bit of a hiatus. Email the coordinator, Leslie Howard (BostonEMPs[at]gmail[dot]com) to be added to the email list, and you’ll be invited to terrific events like the upcoming highlights tour of the new MFA wing. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, too.

There aren’t a lot of concrete benefits to becoming involved in the EMPs like there were for AAM. Think of the benefits for becoming involved as more intangible – meeting great people with your own interests who are all in the same boat, tapping in to a network of great minds who are about to go out and change the museum world. It’s a way to get in on the ground floor, as it were.

Fishin’ for Tourist Dollars: Museums in the News

Today’s New York Times reports that a spanking new museum, Go Fish, is reaping criticism. Some residents think that the 14 million dollar institution in Georgia is a boondoogle; an out-of-scale extravagance for a poor state during a recession. Others defend the museum, explaining that it was built to lure tourism and lucrative fishing competitions (which had previously ignored Georgia)… and it is working.

This new museum reveals some of the underbelly tensions in the museum world. Many museum directors spend time trying to convince state purse-string holders that their institutions significantly contribute to luring tourism dollars. Aquariums, like sports arenas, have long been considered economic assets, and some cities have built them for the express purpose of drawing visitors to the area. So is Go Fish any different? Would people be complaining if it was a sports arena?

But perhaps Go Fish does cross that shifting line in the sand of inappropriateness. Maybe it is more like the Creation Museum, founded on ideology rather than a collection or an educational mission. Would it make a difference if this museum emerged from a fish-related collection? Or if it was dedicated to exploring environmental issues in Georgia’s waterways? Here’s one more test: would you work there if offered a job?

The Foundation Center

Remember our post a while back about skills every museo should have?

Well, one of them was grant writing. In that spirit, we’ll be talking about a few ways to educate yourself about writing grants. They may not be the flashiest, quickest way to fundraise, but they are an important piece of the puzzle. Being able to point to your resume and say “yes, I wrote and secured that grant to fund that program/conservation/collection assessment” is a great big plus for anyone seeking a job.

First up is The Foundation Center. This is a HUGE website and resource, and primarily exists to connect grantmakers with grant writers across the nonprofit field, not just museums. At its heart, the Foundation Center is a searchable database of all places you can find funding. It’s really so much more than that, though. The Center also provides research reports on all aspects of fundraising, and extensive training opportunities for those interested in learning more.

There are a few ways to get that training.

1) The Grantseeker Training Institute is the Center’s most comprehensive overview of how to set about finding, writing, and administering grants. It comes highly recommended. It’s a bit pricey, at $795 for a week of training, and is only offered in certain locations.

2) One-Day Training Sessions. These run about $195 per session, and are more tightly focused than the Training Institute. They’re also offered more widely – there are several coming up in Boston this spring.

3) Last, but most certainly not least: free webinars. Lots and LOTS of them, on all sorts of interesting and useful subjects. They’re 60 minutes each, and if you watch even a handful you will be well on your way to understanding all sorts of issues with grants, foundations, fundraising, and nonprofit management.

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