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Anne W. Ackerson and Joan H. Baldwin
Today’s history and cultural heritage museum leaders are part visionary and part foot soldier, but what makes them tick? Are there attitudes, philosophies and skills that set some people apart from the thousands charged with moving institutions forward? What lessons can we draw from their stories? Now more than ever, success as a museum leader doesn’t necessarily come with longevity, scholarship or curatorial achievement. In fact, today’s successful leaders often bring myriad skills to the table, creating a style that works both personally and professionally. This snapshot of museum leadership focuses in particular on history and cultural heritage organizations to help readers understand the power of individual leadership and its relationship to organizational strength.
This book features:
• 36 interviews with leaders in the field from a range of positions and institutions
• 10 myths of museum leadership and why they’re wrong
• 10 simple truths of museum leadership
• Leadership “agenda” with criteria and goals for individual and organizational development
Using personal insights of the history museum field’s most engaging, innovative and entrepreneurial leaders,
profiles what makes inspiring leadership in 21
century institutions. These profiles focus not only on history museum presidents, directors, and CEOs, but also on the “leaders within”—deputies, vice-presidents and department heads, as well as their counterparts in the boardroom. Ackerson and Baldwin have brought together a resource to help individuals and institutions move from the status quo to being innovative and influential.
AltaMira Press / AASLH
Size: 6 3/8 x 9 3/8
978-0-7591-2183-6 • Hardback • December 2013 •
978-0-7591-2184-3 • Paperback • December 2013 •
978-0-7591-2185-0 • eBook • December 2013 •
American Association for State and Local History
Business & Economics / Museum Administration & Museology
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Anne W. Ackerson
is the former director of the Museum Association of New York, and has served as director of several historic house museums and historical societies in central and eastern New York in a career spanning thirty-six years.
A former museum director,
Joan H. Baldwin
is the Curator of Special Collections at The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT. A Between 2001 and 2012 she served as Program Assistant for the Museum Association of New York, responsible for writing, research, and program design for the statewide service agency.
1. Ten Simple Myths
(and Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them)
2. What Brings Us Here?
3. Leadership Training and Development Today
4. Intentional Leadership: Four Fundamentals for the 21
5. The Self-Aware Leader
6. The Authentic Leader
7. The Courageous Leader
8. The Visionary Leader
9. How Do We Know What We Know
10. Ten Simple Truths
11. Turn, Turn, Turn: The Changing Nature of Leadership—Advice for Aspiring Leaders
12. This One’s for You: (More Than) A Few Words of Advice for Boards of Trustees
13. There Be Dragons Here
14. The Leadership Agenda for History and Cultural Heritage Museums
About the Authors
is a highly readable book, as relevant to organizations of any type as it is to the museum field, in which it is based.
lays out the basis for a collaborative, creative, non-hierarchical approach to leadership in an accessible, engaging manner, based not on abstract theories, but on common sense practices that are documented in the book by successful 21st century leaders in the museum field. There is not a better book on non-profit leadership anywhere.
Ford W. Bell, American Alliance of Museums (AAM) President, 2007-2015
The step by step analysis laid out in
brings focus to the responsibilities every museum director has to connect at the individual, institutional and societal level. This insightful book lays a path that will to help forward-thinking museum professionals manage change and forge success in the communities that their museums serve.
Melody Kanschat, Executive Director, Getty Leadership Institute
Far too little has been written about museum leadership, especially in history museums. This long overdue work provides much needed insight into real world thinking for the “new normal” of museum work in the ever changing economic landscape of the 21
century. The authors masterly weave 36 stories of diverse museum leadership that enlighten readers about real world experiences, and not classroom rhetoric, which is a much needed addition to our profession at a critical juncture.
Norman O. Burns, Executive Director of the Maymont Foundation, Richmond, Virginia
From the foreword:
Through its analysis of relevant leadership literature, parsing valid versus questionable assumptions about museum practice, and capturing the authentic voices of so many museum leaders,
serves as a welcomed resource. Spurred by their conviction that leadership development has been a neglected and under-valued aspect of museum practice, Ackerson and Baldwin gather, synthesize, personalize, and contextualize history museum leadership today. They make the case for the urgency of shifting priorities now. And, in the process, we readers have the opportunity to meet many interesting people who have generously shared their leadership stories, exposing their vulnerabilities as well as strengths, and acknowledging that they, too, are still on a path of learning and discovery.
Marsha L. Semmel, Senior Advisor, Noyce Leadership Institute and Independent Consultant on Leadership, Partnerships, and Policy for Cultural Institutions
is an important book about leadership development in the museum world. Based on 36 interviews of museum people, Ackerson and Baldwin show that leadership can happen anywhere, at any level of an organization. They see successful leaders as possessing four characteristics: they are self-aware, authentic, courageous, and visionary. And those aren't qualities that just show up at work – successful leaders strive to integrate work, home, the wider community, and their private lives. The authors want to start a leadership revolution in the museum world, and I hope they do!
Stew Friedman, Practice Professor of Management, The Wharton School, and author of Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
Museum leadership is not a one size fits all. Instead, there are many different paths to the development of sustainable, healthy, community-centered institutions. Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin have written an important book that offers inspiring and successful stories that demonstrate how dynamic, creative, and courageous practices have transformed museums and individuals. With passion and commitment and turning our focus to leadership, as well as scholarship and collections, this book is filled with ideas, models, and methods that everyone leading or aspiring to lead should read.
Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director & Distinguished Service Professor, Cooperstown Graduate Program
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