January 23, 2020
Last week the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) made an announcement about additional funding dedicated to professional development for museum professionals. I emphasized in each blog post I wrote about professional development programs I participated in on how significant they are, especially for museum professionals. The recent news from IMLS explained what the additional funding would mean for museums and museum professionals. According to their website, when the Fiscal Year 2020 was passed on December 20, 2019 IMLS was allocated an additional $3 million through the largest program Museums for America and plans to invest this additional funding towards improving the recruitment, preparation, and professional development of museum professionals.
Museums for America is a program that supports projects to strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public. This program has three categories: Lifelong Learning, Community Anchors and Catalysts, and Collections Stewardship and Public Access.
What does this mean for museum professionals? We would be able to develop our skills to improve the quality of our field and of our work with the public. I hope that with this funding it will help support improvements on onboarding, recruiting, training, and creating a healthy workplace. There is a lot of progress on making museums a better place to work but we do have a long way to go. Recent news about the former executive who worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the sexual harassment complaints against him is an example of what museum professionals face in the workplace (see the links below on the coverage from the Philadelphia Inquirer). While we are working to make up for ill treatment within the museum workplace, we need to work on the source of the problems and hopefully more museums will be able to access museum professional development opportunities IMLS has to offer.
On their website, they stated the $3 million will be channeled through two special funding opportunities under Museums for America called Museums Empowered, Grants for Professional Development and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums. Museums Empowered allows museums to use the funds in four specific professional development categories: improving organizational effectiveness, evaluation practices, digital stewardship, and diversity and inclusion. Inspire! Grants for Small Museums is a program that supports small museums’ capacity building efforts related to collections, learning, and community at their institutions. The IMLS also included highlights of how professional development offerings make an impact on museums and museum professionals:
• National Leadership Grants for Museums, realigned in 2018, now offers dedicated project categories for professional development and diversity and inclusion that allow museum associations, universities, and other non-profits to seek funding that can amplify collaborations, offer training, and develop tools and promising practices for the entire sector.
• The Museums for America, African American History and Culture, and Native American and Native Hawaiian grant programs continue to offer individual museums and tribes support for leadership development and diversity, equity, and inclusion work, as well as building a pipeline of new professionals.
• The Museum Assessment Program and Collections Assessment for Preservation program cooperative agreements with the American Alliance of Museums and Foundation for Advancement in Conservation continue to provide much needed technical assistance and capacity building help to smaller museums.
To check out more information about IMLS and the programs it offers, visit their website: www.imls.gov.