The Effective Museum: Rethinking Museum Practices to Increase Impact features practical suggestions for how to be more successful at achieving a museum’s intentional purposes.
These practical suggestions can help you:
This book seeks to help you rethink these key museum practice through a diversity of suggestions, not a single system. However, the suggestions share definitions and frameworks and a unifying voice and structure. While any museum can adopt whichever suggestions are appropriate, the last chapter helps you explore how the suggestions might be mutually reinforcing.
Each chapter includes a) generalized statement of a problem and the need for new ideas; b) new suggestions implementable in many museums; c) the likely resistance; e) a summation of the idea’s potential impacts and benefits, and e) the start of an implementation process.
The suggestions vary in form—some are suggested strategies, others lists of options or research questions or implementation steps.
In attitude, The Effective Museum is not thou shall, but much more think about trying this suggestion Underlying all suggestions is a new way of thinking about museum practices as a basis for readers to build their own learning and legacy.
John W. Jacobsen led museum analysis and planning for White Oak Associates, Inc. for over forty years and over a hundred museums through hundreds of commissions. Projects include eighteen museums representing over a billion dollars of actual and anticipated investment in new and expanding museums internationally. In the Eighties, he was associate director of the Museum of Science in Boston. In 1988, the Museum served 2.2 million visitors, an unsurpassed record. White Oak integrated operating economics with creative concepts in its plans.
Mr. Jacobsen's BA and MFA are from Yale University.
Long committed to the museum field, Jacobsen is the founder of the Museum Film Network ('85), the Planetarium Show Network ('88), the Ocean Film Network ('92), AAM's Professional Committee on Green Museums (PIC Green '08) and of the Digital Immersive Giant Screen Specifications (DIGSS 1.0 '11). With Ms. Jeanie Stahl, Mr. Jacobsen formed the White Oak Institute in 2007, a non-profit dedicated to research-based museum innovation, with completed awards and contracts with the NSF, the IMLS, the AAM and the ACM to develop field-wide standards and data collection fields.
Mr. Jacobsen’s extensive writings and presentations on museum topics have appeared in Curator, Museum Management and Curatorship, Informal Learning Review and at AAM, ASTC, ACM and other conferences. He is the author of Measuring Museum Impact and Performance (2016) and editor and co-author of The Museum Manager’s Compendium (2017), both published by Rowman & Littlefield.
PART 1 REVISE YOUR CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
1. Pluralize Missions and Elevate Values
PART 2 REVITALIZE YOUR AUDIENCES AND SUPPORTERS
2. Redefine the Relationship between Philanthropy and Governance
3. Recognize the Competitive Marketplace for your Operating Revenues
4. Serve your Community, Audiences and Supporters
PART 3 REORGANIZE YOUR MUSEUM
5. Move from We/Them to Us/Us
6. Reorganize the Museum as a Producing Organization
7. Unify the Museum Field
PART 4 REINVEST IN YOUR RESOURCES
8. Invest in Infrastructure, Not New Structure
9. Leverage Existing Assets
PART 5 REPOSITION YOUR PROGRAMMING
10. Select Your Creative Talents Effectively
11. Support New Strategies for Changing Programming
PART 6 RESTORE MANAGEMENT BASICS
12. Measure, Document and Communicate your Impacts
13. Get Real about Financials
14. Plan Your Future
PART 7 REIMAGINE MUSEUM MODELS
15. Embrace Public Mandates
16. Integrate the Suggestions
About the Author
Museum professionals who read, understand, and appropriately apply the concepts and suggestions in this book will have more success in running and changing their institutions. It’s that simple.
John Jabobsen is a consummate museum leader, planner and theorist. In The Effective Museum: Rethinking Museum Practices to Increase Impact Jacobsen presents the results of his decades of experience, deep data-driven research and structured thinking as a powerful tool kit that leaders of any type of museum can apply. Jacobsen's insights have transformed the organizations I've led and profoundly impact everything that I do as a museum planner. The Effective Museum should be required reading for anyone who leads or manages in a museum or aspires to lead.
In The Effective Museum John W. Jacobsen has superbly consolidated his many cogent insights from years of dedicated work in museum planning, design, operations, and research. Museum professionals of many stripes will definitely benefit from absorbing, reflecting on, and putting into practice those of his recommendations that address their most pressing needs.
If you have to purchase one ‘primer’ for your museum staff, make it, The Effective Museum. The wisdom contained in these pages on collaboration, definition of the modern audience, the importance of constantly looking outside our walls for answers will propel your Museum family to think in new and innovative ways that bring success and relevance.
If the pandemic has had any silver lining for museums, it has been the accelerated opportunity to re-examine who we are and what we mean to our recovering communities. The Effective Museum takes a comprehensive look at today’s complicated museum model, breaking it down component by component in search of new ways of thinking about its many once-traditional roles and operations. Readers will not only benefit from Jacobsen’s fifty years of museum planning experience, but his clear and engaging prose. The wealth of knowledge and insights into what makes an effective museum today is delivered with a steady encouragement to embrace change as we move forward. Finally, this is not a dry textbook; it’s a really enjoyable read. Jacobsen does an excellent job of telling the 21st century museum story.