What Can We Do to Avoid Fraud?

Added to Medium, February 22, 2018

Fraud is a scary topic especially within the museum field. It is a topic not often talked about, and it should be discussed more among museum professionals. Maybe we think that it might not happen but it could happen at any point in any time frame if we are not careful. I do not recall being in a situation that led to fraud in the museum, and while I am thankful that I have not faced something like this I do feel that it is important that all of us in the field especially myself need to know what to do under these circumstances. Since this week is known by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) as “Nightmare at the Museum Week”, the webinars and articles they are sharing discussing deaccessioning and fraud inspired this week’s discussion on my blog. The more we talk about fraud, and learn from one another, the more we are able to be more aware of fraud and maybe we will be able to do our best to avoid fraud.

This topic captured my attention more now as a museum professional since I have become more involved in the financial realm of running a museum. I had some experience in keeping track of finances during college when I was a treasurer of two clubs for all four years. Since starting at the Maritime Explorium, I have been asked to be the manager of finances to make sure admissions and other income are adequately recorded and supported to keep the children’s science museum running. The more I get a closer look at the record keeping, the more I knew that the need for accurate record keeping is essential.

I notice more human counting errors when I began reviewing the daily and monthly reports. It is a challenge to go through a lot of previous records and make sure it is accurate, but it is necessary to make sure we have accurate information. If our organizations are not careful, we can be open to more issues down the road.

I reiterate that we should do our best to avoid fraud because if we do not prepare for it by updating our policies and evaluating our museum ethics fraud can sneak up before one realizes it happened. We can take a look at journal articles, magazine articles, and books that discuss fraud to see what would work best for our organizations.

Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Ireland pointed out in their book Museum Administration 2.0 that museums need to keep in mind their professional codes and ethics when running the museum. By doing so, I believe museum professionals have the ability to have the tools they need for fraud prevention. According to Genoways and Ireland, a museum ethics statement is an important moral compass that guide staff and board to fulfill their museums’ missions. When we set up a code of standards for board and staff, we set an expectation that we will run the museum with the public’s interest and trust in mind.

Our museums should take care of our fraud prevention practices so we can maintain our visitors trust in our organizations. One of the examples of resources we can use on fraud and fraud prevention is an article that focuses on embezzlement.

AASLH published an article in their Winter 2017 edition of the magazine AASLH History News about embezzlement written by Max A. van Balgooy. He not only briefly described examples of museums, historic sites, and historical societies that had to face embezzlement, but also went into detail about what embezzlement is and how to detect fraud.

Van Balgooy revealed there was a study done by the Association for Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) called the 2016 Global Fraud Study. The study showed that the typical organization loses 5 percent of its revenues to fraud each year. Also, it stated frauds last an average of eighteen months before being detected, and losses rose the longer the schemes continued. Therefore, the faster an organization acts the smaller the losses will be for that organization.

He stated in the article that state and local history organizations can reduce losses and recover more quickly if boards and staff are more informed about the techniques used by criminals and adopt practices that provide obstacles and create transparency. I agree because we would be better prepared if we knew how criminals perform these crimes so we will be able to catch it as soon as possible.

One of the statements that stood out to me in the article was “Don’t Assume an Independent Audit Will Catch Fraud”. It stood out to me because when I thought about it, this makes sense because museum professionals are more aware of the finances and the financial history of their organization. It is the auditor’s job to detect any weaknesses in the financial management system and report that so the staff and board can work on improving this system. When we strengthen our system, we would be able to detect when a fraud may occur.

The most important thing I got out this article was we need to be talking about fraud more often. It is an embarrassing feeling and we do feel betrayed but we need to figure out how to deal with the situation. If we do not involve the authorities or overlook it, we would be letting the criminal(s) free to embezzle other organizations. Discussing it more will help museums and museum professionals feel more comfortable seek help and advice to best prevent from another fraud happening again. AASLH has recently followed this example of discussing the topic more often.

This afternoon, AASLH had a webinar called Fraud at the Museum: Protecting Your Organization from a Devastating Event. According to their webinar description,

Financial fraud can happen to any size history organization, from the very large to the smallest of the small. But it’s only after they become a victim that the vast majority of organizations take steps to protect themselves against fraud.

It is exactly the point that has to come across to museum professionals of all institutions, no matter what type or size of the museum. In the webinar, the guest speaker, Kelly Paxton, discussed how fraud is committed and discovered then proceeded with recommendations for policies and procedures to help prevent financial loss and protect its staff and board members.

I plan on looking at #AASLH Twitter Chat this Friday which discusses deaccessioning and fraud prevention. A few of the questions they will ask participants are:

What are your experiences with fraud or fraud prevention?
What policies do you have in place to deal with potential fraud?
What are your favorite resources for preparing your institution in this and other tricky areas?

These questions will hopefully let museum professionals be comfortable to discuss their experiences and resources they use to deal with fraud or work on fraud prevention.

If more museum professionals become more open to discussing fraud we would be able to help our organizations run better and maintain our visitors’ trust in our ability we can serve as educational institutions.

Have you heard of a situation in which fraud has taken place within an organization? What resources have you read that discussed fraud prevention?

Genoways, Hugh H., Lynne M. Ireland, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Museum Administration 2.0, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.
van Balgooy, Max A. “Embezzlement”, AASLH History News, Winter 2017, Vol. 72, #1, 20-25.

How to Handle Trauma, Memory, and Lived Experience in Museums and Historic Sites

Added to Medium, February 15, 2018

This week I received Museum Education Roundtable’s March edition of Journal of Museum Education and the theme of this edition is “Interpreting Trauma, Memory, and Lived Experience in Museums and Historic Sites”. When I received the Journal in the field, it made me think about the experiences I have had in professional development and in the museum field with dealing with tough subject matter. It is important for all museum professionals, whether or not they directly work with narratives about traumatic events, understand how to interpret trauma, memory, and lived experience for the visitors.

The March edition of Journal of Museum Education have a few articles that delved into this subject matter.

For instance, Lauren Zalut’s, guest editor of this edition, “Interpreting Trauma, Memory, and Lived Experience in Museums and Historic Sites” introduces the subject of handling topics of trauma, memory, and lived experience. Zalut stated that,

Our field typically tells stories of trauma and complex issues through museum educators, tour guides, or docents who are generations or decades removed from the topic or event. This approach utilizes historical empathy, defined as developing “…understanding for how people from the past thought, felt, made decisions, acted, and faced consequences within a specific historical and social context.” Research reveals that this approach humanizes historic figures, but is applied inconsistently by educators.

We have the skills to convey the significance of these stories, however we need to commit to what consistent approach is needed.

Not many museums and organizations have a narrative that includes traumatic issues. There are museums such as U.S. Holocaust Museum and the National 9/11 Museum that discuss emotional and traumatic situations on a regular basis. Meanwhile, there are museums and organizations that share a part of its overall narrative dealing with traumatic, emotional, or lived experience.

One of my first experiences with interpreting trauma, memory, and lived experience was when I was working at the Stanley-Whitman House in Farmington, Connecticut. The Stanley-Whitman House is a living history center and museum that teaches through its collection, preservation, research, and dynamic interpretation of the history and culture of early Farmington.

At the Stanley-Whitman House, I taught school programs that also discussed Native Americans and African Americans who lived in the early American Farmington. One of the students did ask if the house owners had slaves, and while at the time I was not entirely sure what the answer was I delicately explained that there were slaves in Farmington during the 17th century but slavery in the New England area was no longer accepted by the 1800s.

While I was in graduate school, I decided to work with the Stanley-Whitman House on a project that addressed slavery in Connecticut. I had a couple of classmates and colleagues join me in the team to work on this project for a Curatorship class requirement. We researched former slaves who worked and lived in Connecticut before the 1790 Census to present the research results about what slavery was like for slaves in Farmington to colleagues who attended the In Plain Sight symposium presentations and discussion.

Since working on this project and the symposium, there have been more developments on discussing slavery in Connecticut. One of my teammates collaborated with the Stanley-Whitman House to create a database on the information about slaves in Farmington. Also, more recently a new exhibit is opening this Saturday (February 17th) called “Slavery, Resistance & Freedom in Connecticut”; one of the students from the Public History program I graduated from at Central Connecticut State University researched, wrote, and designed the exhibit.

By being able to discuss slavery in Connecticut more, we are able to address what life had been like for enslaved individuals and draw more attention to their lived experiences.

I believe that with what the Stanley-Whitman House is doing now we are working towards helping visitors understand these lived experiences. Zalut pointed out the importance of encouraging visitors to ask questions and how museum educators have the skills to assist visitors in understanding and learning from the past:

Asking questions and spending time reflecting are critical parts of transforming the work of museum educators. If our field is genuine about its will to make space for visitors to process emotionally complex topics, spark social change, and learn from the past to make a more equitable present and future then museum educators are the ones to make it happen. We can create job opportunities for disenfranchised populations and draw in new audiences, but this work is resource intensive, and requires major internal work – both personally and institutionally. If taken on with great care, collaboration and gratitude, creating platforms for marginalized voices and narratives will be transformative for you, your visitors, your co-workers, your museum, and the field at large.

We have to dedicate our time and efforts as museum educators to create places marginalized voices and narratives can be heard and understood. Emphasis on spaces is especially important for visitors to feel they can go through the process of understanding untold stories.

Mark Katrikh’s “Creating Safe(r) Spaces for Visitors and Staff in Museum Programs” discusses visitors’ expectations of their museum experience. Visitors do not necessarily come to museums to have an emotional response, and it can be hard for them to be accustomed to this response especially when they are not prepared for it. Our responsibilities as museum educators include guiding visitors by helping them process their emotions with engaging dialogue between the museum educators and visitors. Katrikh discussed the Museum of Tolerance’s approach to having safe and responsible conversations through a framework for understanding and managing key issues when easing challenging conversations. Their framework points out there are many needs and interests participants have involved in conversations, and museum educators are responsible for approaching them with compassion, mindfulness, and skilled responses.

As museum educators, we do acknowledge that we always have the responsibility to engage with the visitors in a way that will allow them to take away with them the lessons our past have to offer. We are all responsible for figuring out what to do with these lessons to make our world a better place for us in the future. According to Katrikh,

At museums whose focus is discussing and presenting trauma, emotional responses are the norm. Visitors unprepared for such a personal experience can react in a multitude of ways along the spectrum that includes confusion, denial, inappropriate comments or questions, and anger. Anticipating such reactions, museums have a responsibility to build into their programming opportunities to promote dialogue, to process emotions and ultimately to allow visitors to reach a place of equilibrium.

We maintain balance within our museums, and by creating opportunities for visitors to process their emotions and reach a balance they would be able to take that lesson museum educators gave them to create a better community.

To be able to fulfill our responsibilities as museum educators, we should start with our training so we are prepared for the challenging conversations. Noah Rauch’s “A Balancing Act: Interpreting Tragedy at the 9/11 Memorial Museum” discussed the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s docent program and the challenges it presented. When the program was launched, it raised many questions including those on how to balance and convey strongly held, often traumatic, and sometimes conflicting experiences with a newly constructed institutional narrative. Since then the museum negotiated on specific issues and dealt with ongoing questions and challenges.

The more we work together, the more we learn and understand how our museums deal with fact-checking progresses, the more we are able to feel responsibility of our expertise in the events and life experiences. When we include more of our staff and volunteers in the training process, we would be able to connect to our missions and effectively help our visitors understand the narrative they learn.

When I participated in last year’s New York City Museum Education Roundtable’s (NYCMER) conference, I attended a session presented by the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum called The Challenges of Confronting Difficult Content. Rauch’s article reminded me of this session because both dealt with the challenges. While Rauch discussed mainly the docent perspective of the dealing with the subject matter, this NYCMER session discussed the school programs they developed and explained how their lessons approached difficult content.

In my blog post about the conference, Reflections on the NYCMER 2017 Conference, I revealed that I thought this session was interesting because these programs provided a way for students from third grade to seniors to express their thoughts on the events through art and discussion. The takeaways from the session are to address the common question: How to translate difficult content in ways that allow all visitors to correct with sensitive subject matter? And the second takeaway was as a differentiated and inclusive practice, strategy transcends content by incorporating storytelling and historical contents and current resonances/present day connections.

It is important to understand both perspectives of museum professionals and visitors so we can work on strengthening the relationship between the two. When we do, both museum staff and visitors will have the understanding and space to confront difficult content and learn the lessons they have to offer.

How has your museum or organization dealt with educating difficult content? What challenges have you faced when interpreting trauma, memory, and lived experience?

Mark Katrikh (2018) Creating Safe(r) Spaces for Visitors and Staff in Museum Programs, Journal of Museum Education, 43:1, 7-15
Noah Rauch (2018) A Balancing Act: Interpreting Tragedy at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Journal of Museum Education, 43:1, 16-21
Lauren Zalut (2018) Interpreting Trauma, Memory, and Lived Experience in Museums and Historic Sites, Journal of Museum Education, 43:1, 4-6
If interested in exhibit opening I mentioned, register for the Stanley-Whitman House’s exhibit opening here: http://www.stanleywhitman.org/Calendar.Details.asp?ID=743&Cat=Visit


What is the Benefit of Museum Partnerships?

Added to Medium, February 9, 2018

In previous blog posts, I have talked about how important it is for museum professionals to collaborate. Museums can also benefit in forming partnerships to work on projects to bring in more visitors and awareness to our organizations. We can learn a lot from each other on how to draw visitors’ attentions. I was inspired to write about museum partnerships based on my recent experience in meeting with another museum professional and planning visits between two museums. Also, I saw various articles written about partnerships formed for greater purposes for the community.

The articles I came across pointed out that partnerships come in different sizes and ways for their community. Seema Rao has talked about different types of museums and how there is potential for museums to create partnerships that will benefit all parties. Also, museums can also come together to promote their programs, lectures, exhibits, and other events to discuss the importance of art and technology. Another article I came across was an article in an early childhood educators’ journal that discussed why museums are beneficial for young children and how early childhood educators can utilize museums’ services.

In her article, called “What Can Museums Learn from Each Other”, Seema Rao pointed out that in order to maintain and increase audience members “museums of all kinds should be looking to others to see what is working.” Rao discussed what art and science museums have to offer, and the benefits of having art and science museums work together. She stated that “Art museums have already seen the power of interactives, and environmental installations. Science museums could learn from art museums on ways to draw adults.” While there is potential for art and science museums to collaborate, there is also potential for history museums can also learn from art and science museums on drawing more visitors into our organizations.

History and historic house museums assimilate art and science topics in their programs especially school programs. When I worked in history and historic house museums, I have taught school programs that talked about what paintings can tell us about what life was like in the 19th century. Also, in historic house museums specifically I have taught students how to cook 18th century recipes by using mugs since there were no measuring cups to accurately measure ingredients for a chemical reaction. Museums can form partnerships to learn from each other about bringing visitors in and sharing knowledge about topics.

As an Education Committee member at the Three Village Historical Society, I joined the rest of the committee to visit a museum in Connecticut to see what they had about volunteering and the exhibits they have in their spaces including a small section about the Culper Spy Ring. We met with the Director of Education who showed us around as well as answered questions we had about volunteers and developing volunteer programs. We continue to make connections with the museum to share with them our resources about the Culper Spy Ring.

Museums can also come together for educational purposes such as the relationship between art and technology.

There are fourteen Boston-area arts and culture institutions are teaming together to show how technology has affected our relationship to art. Each of these organizations planned a series of exhibits and panels between now and July. For instance, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum has an exhibit called ‘Cool Medium: Art, Television & Psychedelia, 1960 – 1980’ through March 11th; the exhibit explores color television’s relationship to art of the era and its connection to mind-altering substances and spirituality. In Tufts University’s Art Galleries, artist Jillian Mayer creates furniture specifically designed to support human bodies as they interact with cellphones, tablets and computers.

Museums can be appealing to all ages especially young children, and partnerships between museums and early learning institutions recognize they can help children reach their full potential. The NAEYC, an organization that promotes high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age 8, by connecting practice, policy, and research, publishes a journal series called Young Children and one of their editions talked about the importance of creating partnerships with museums.

In the March 2016 edition of Young Children, an article called “Creating Meaningful Partnerships with Museums” discusses why museums are beneficial for both young children and early childhood educators. They argued that museums have much to offer young children, and described in detail how children at various age levels including but not limited to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers benefit from what museums offer.

According to Sarah Erdman, who wrote the article, teachers working with infants have seen firsthand how babies respond to stimulus such as high-contrast objects and bold images. By bringing infants to museums, they would be exposed to museum collections which have a wide variety of sizes, colors, textures, and movement. Also, museum exhibits can help advance language development and teachers are encouraged to talk to babies using rich and varied vocabulary. Finally, museums can be flexible in giving time for infants and their adults to interact with exhibits and because of this they may be explored at a time and pace suitable for infants and often have spaces set aside for baby care.

The article also discussed how toddlers can benefit from interacting with museums exhibits and programs. Museums can speak directly to a toddler’s ability to connect with concrete objects, and the variety of objects can also help toddlers understand that familiar objects such as houses can come in many shapes and sizes. Like infants, toddlers need flexibility and museums are able to accommodate for teachers to create experiences that work for their classes.

As a museum professional who is working in a children’s science museum, Erdman’s arguments are to my knowledge accurate since kids at the Maritime Explorium learn STEM lessons through hands-on activities and events. The Maritime Explorium’s preschool program, Little Sparks, shows children how fun learning can be while they develop the skills they need to reach their full potential.

We should continue to reach out to other museums and organizations to keep our institutions going strong.

What examples of museum partnerships have you experienced or read about? What benefits and challenges have you faced when maintaining partnerships?


How to Find the Balance between Work and Family? An Important Discussion We Need to Acknowledge

Added to Medium, February 1, 2018

Museum professionals who either decide to start or have families of their own or have other dependents need to figure out how they can balance work and life outside of the museum. This balance is what I need to continue to consider as I plan to be married next year, and continue to spend time with family. Finding the right balance is not going to be easy since life is unpredictable.

I knew going in that balancing work and life is a challenge, and I should try to be as flexible as possible. My experience in the museum field has presented a number of instances when I need to figure out how to balance work and family. For instance, it is a challenge to visit my family when they live in other states.

I have an older sister who lives with her husband and two boys in Connecticut, and a younger sister who lives with her husband in Rhode Island. The rest of my family live around the New England area. As a museum professional who works in a small museum, I wear many hats when I assist in running programs and finances. It is hard sometimes when I cannot always go up to visit family as long as I want to. During the holidays, we planned a brunch so all of us are able to spend time together and we are able to spend time with extended family within the same day; this worked well with me especially because my fiancé and I went to brunch at my sister’s then we went back to spend time with his family.

I am grateful for the time I am able to spend with family, and being able to balance museum work and family is important to me. I always look for resources on how to balance museum work and family life since it is never too early to figure out how to plan for the future.

In the past, I came across information about balancing work and family life in the museum field. I kept the information in mind while I was attending graduate school, and beginning my career in the museum education field.

Recently I have been reintroduced to a blog post written on American Association of State and Local History’s website written back in 2016 by Melissa Prycer, the President/Executive Director of the Dallas Heritage Village. The AASLH blog post, “Baby Boom: Motherhood & Museums”, shared two stories about Prycer’s friends and colleagues experiences dealing with balancing work and family, as well as workplace leave policies.

It caught my attention again because now that I am planning more on my future. By reading this blog and other resources, we will be prepared for what we need to know what is going on in the topic of workplace leave policies and motherhood.

I began thinking more about the balance of work and life when I participated in the MuseumEdChat discussion last week on this topic. The hosts of this chat posed questions about this topic and participants answered their questions.

One of the questions that was posed and discussed about was: When you hear the phrase “family friendly workplace,” what does mean to you? When I hear “family friendly workplace”, I think that this is an organization that understands that family takes priority especially when unpredictable circumstances happen such as when one’s child is sick and needs to be brought to the doctor.

Museums and museum professionals also need to acknowledge that there are different types of families that need to be cared for, and when we acknowledge this in our programming our family friendly workplace policies should reflect this fact as well.

A website called Incluseum had written a blog post that discussed acknowledging different types of families called “Including the 21st Century Family”. The 21st century family is a term created by the writer to acknowledge the fact that families are unique, and by using the term family it suggests that we see families as “a nuclear family with two heterosexual legally married parents of the same race and their biological children, residing in the same household.”

The blog post included a list of family-inclusive language words that helps museums be more inclusive to all visitors. For instance, instead of calling adults accompanying children “parents” or “mom and dad”, since it suggests that all children have moms and dads which is not the case, museum professionals should use “grownup”, “adult”, or “caregiver”.

If we pay this close attention to how we treat our family visitors, we should extend the same amount of attention to our own museum professionals’ families.

Since I do not have children of my own yet, it is important that I should learn what other museum professional parents deal with and desire from family friendly workplace policies to prepare for what I may consider in the future. I read other participants tweets responding to questions the hosts posted.

Another question that was posed was: If you could design your dream set of benefits that would give you true “work life fit” what would it look like?

One of the participants pointed out that it is important to make sure museum professionals who dedicate a big chunk of their lives to fulfill the museum’s mission get benefits that include paid family leave, health insurance, and opportunities for professional growth.

During the discussion, Sage, one of the hosts of last week’s MuseumEdChat, shared information from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on Family and Medical Leave. According to their website, this organization produces reports, fact sheets, and memoranda about the impacts of proposed paid leave laws to inform policymakers, business leaders, and advocates across the country. The information the Institute provides identifies costs and benefits of workplace leave policies to help people understand that these policies do not harm businesses and the economy.

When we take a good look at what our museums have to offer and what museums should do to help us balance work and family, we will be able to successfully accomplish our museums’ goals while being able to make memories with our families and have families of our own if we choose to.

Does your museum or organization provide leave policies and/or services for your families? How do you balance time between work and family?


A Closer Look into Museum Volunteers and Volunteer Programs

Added to Medium, January 25, 2018

Museum workers are valuable to museums, especially those who volunteer their time to help the museums run. During my experience as a museum educator, I have worked with volunteers as well as participated in professional development programs about volunteers and volunteer programs.

As I am in the middle of helping rewrite the Three Village Historical Society’s docent manual, I thought about my previous experiences and professional development I participated in. In one of my previous blog posts, “Professional Development Programs: Managing Your Museum’s Online Reputation and Evaluating Volunteers and Volunteer Programs”, I wrote about my previous experiences working with volunteers and working as a volunteer in my early career. A couple of my most recent experiences working with volunteers were previously managing volunteers for school programs at the Long Island Museum, and writing down records of sailing tour hours at the Long Island Maritime Museum.

At the Long Island Museum, I oversaw scheduling volunteers to assist with larger school programs based on their availability and discussed with them what the students got from the lessons. Then at the Long Island Maritime Museum, I volunteered for a school tour, collected admission for a Boat Burning event, Past Perfect data entry and preserving books by scanning pages, and working at the visitor services desk. Based on my perspective, I can understand what volunteers need to complete their goals as well as making sure their work accomplishes work museums’ need to accomplish their mission.

To make sure we understand what we should expect from our volunteer programs, it is important to learn from colleagues through professional development programs and written information such as books and articles.

One of the professional development programs I attended was the American Alliance of Museums’ EdComVersation. The EdComVersation I attended was called “Evaluating Volunteers and Volunteer Programs” with several presenters giving case studies of how volunteer programs are run at different museums or organizations. Each case study provide advice on how we can run our volunteer programs and make sure we utilize volunteers’ time to everyone’s advantage. Museums should evaluate the volunteers and the volunteer programs since evaluations can help give volunteers information they need to do better work and can help museums nab problems early (problems with program or problem volunteers). Also, by evaluating volunteers and volunteer programs it conveys appreciation and reinforce value of volunteers; motivates volunteers to do both their personal best and give positive impact on the museums; and it allows museum to improve volunteer program.

Another resource that is good to learn about managing volunteer programs and working with volunteers is a book Recruiting and Managing Volunteers in Museums: A Handbook for Volunteer Management by Kristy Van Hoven and Loni Wellman. In their book, Van Hoven and Wellman discussed what museum volunteers are and the importance of museum volunteers especially today. Van Hoven and Wellman gave solid advice on volunteer recruitment, communication, and retention strategies. They answered various questions about volunteers including: What are new volunteers looking for? How can you develop a successful relationship with potential volunteers? How can your museum support a robust and active volunteer program? How do you reward volunteers and keep them for the long term? How can you meet volunteers’ needs and still benefit from their work?

Their book also provided sample documents for managing volunteer programs. It has a sample of a volunteer job description and a volunteer application. There are also samples of volunteer interview questionnaire, volunteer evaluation forms, recognition letters, and certificate of recognition. I have also found another resource that is helpful with museum volunteer programs.

The resource I found is a technical bulletin called Building a successful museum volunteer services program written by Robbin Davis who is a Volunteer and Marketing Manager at the Oklahoma Museum of History. According to Davis, the questions that volunteers think about when considering volunteering at a museum are: how do they fit into the picture, how can they be useful and how much time will it take? Can they give tours? Can they work with artifacts? Can they interact with the public? Are there social activities? Does it cost?

Davis also went into specific details about how to build volunteer programs. For instance, Robbin discussed incorporating the mission statement in the volunteer program. In the bulletin, it stated that

A mission specific to the Volunteer program should frame the program within the context of the overall museum mission. Make sure it is attainable and a staff decision. If the volunteer program is already established, let the volunteers help create the mission or “freshen” up an existing one.

By incorporating the museum’s mission, potential volunteers will be able to see how they would be able to contribute to the museum and what the museum stands for.

The technical bulletin also discussed the importance of having a volunteer reference manual, marketing materials to promote the volunteer program, and forms for volunteers to fill out. Also, it stated that there are important questions that need to be asked as a volunteer program is being developed such as

Who does your museum serve? What is the volunteer history of the museum? Have there been volunteers before? How were they utilized? What kind of program was it? Was it effective? Why? Why not?

When museum staff figure out the answers to the previously stated questions, they will be able to have an effective and successful volunteer program that will generate dedicated volunteers to help museums fulfill their missions.

Museum volunteers are significant in helping museums function. Volunteers have skills that can be useful in various aspects within the museums’ departments. By focusing on establishing a successful volunteer program, museums are able to not only provide opportunities for positive experiences for volunteers but they will be able to promote your organizations.

What is your relationship with your volunteers like? What ways does your organization recognize its volunteers?

Van Hoven, Kristy and Loni Wellman, Recruiting and Managing Volunteers in Museums: A Handbook for Volunteer Management, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
“Professional Development Programs: Managing Your Museum’s Online Reputation and Evaluating Volunteers and Volunteer Programs”
Building a successful museum volunteer services program

What is the Right Fit? A Deeper Analysis of Museum Boards

Added to Medium, January 18, 2018

In previous blog posts, I talked about museum boards and how important the relationship between boards and staff are to keep the museum functioning. I decided to go into more detail about museum boards since I got the latest American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM’s) in the mail. AAM’s recent release of Museum magazine talks about strategies for creating the ideal board.

Each museum is different, and in order to have an ideal board you need to find out what your museum expects from its board.

In Laura Lott’s letter to the reader titled “What are you waiting for?”, she stated that there are five things museums can do now to better engage our trustees. The first thing is to advocate for advocacy by asking them this question during board meetings: If we could advance our mission more effectively by changing one law, public policy, or public attitude, what would that be?

The second thing is to show the board our power in the economy especially by showing a report, Museums as Economic Engines: A National Study, which provides evidence of museums’ influence in the economy. The third thing is to keep up on trends for the future of museums. Then the fourth and fifth things are to benchmark the board by analyzing the variety of policies, practices, and performance, and read this edition of Museum magazine.

These things are especially important to keep in mind when talking with your board. The five things were also in the back of my mind as I continued to read this edition. By discussing the examples of articles I read, I hope all of us will be able to have a better understanding of what we want from our boards as well as what the boards can offer.

One of the articles in the Museum magazine is “Units of Measure: Key findings from Museum Board Leadership 2017: A National Report” which provides a summary of the report’s key findings and highlights board and chief executive demographics, with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

The article revealed a summary of the findings discovered in the report. Some of the key findings in the report are:

Museum directors and board chairs believe board diversity and inclusion are important to advance their missions, but have failed to prioritize action steps to achieve it.

The vast majority of museum boards do not assess their performance.

Two-thirds of museum directors say their boards have a moderately to extremely positive impact on their job satisfaction.

Eighty percent of museums give themselves a grade of C or lower on monitoring legislative and regulatory issues.

Museum boards meet frequently, but attendance is mediocre.


It is unfortunately not surprising that these are the results from the report. Some museum professionals have talked about how hard it is to make progress in museums moving forward when some museum board members have doing the “same old, same old” mentality that gets museum staff and board stuck in a rut. These findings tell me that we need to work harder to have effective leadership among the museum boards.

One of the things I mentioned in my previous blog posts is the importance of communication between the museum staff and board. I said in my How to Work with Museum Boards blog post. The more effective and accurate the communication among them are the more likely what changes unfold can be accommodated smoothly.

I also said that each board and staff member needs to have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Ireland’s Museum Administration 2.0 stated that some of the board responsibilities are but not limited to:

Act as an advocate in the community for public involvement in the museum.

Review and approve policies consistent with the museum’s mission and mandate, and to monitor staff implementation of these policies.

Ensure the continuity of the museum’s mission, mandate, and purposes.

Plan for the future of the museum, including review and approval of a strategic plan that identifies the museum’s goals and ways to attain them, and monitoring implementation of the plan.

The key findings tell me museums that responded to the survey are not doing an sufficient job at communicating what the museum needs to keep functioning in the future, nor are they completely fulfilling their responsibilities. We really need to come together to learn museums social and economic impact on a national level, and see the impact museums potentially have on a local level.

Based on the previous literature on the museum board topic, this is a fact that is not new to the museum field. Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Ireland wrote in their book that their responsibilities do have to be clear to make sure the board members understand how their tasks have an impact on the overall museum’s function and see the museum’s impact on the community.

Museum staff and board should discuss what the needs are for the museum and what the board can do. Karen S. Coltrane’s “Meeting of the Minds: To get the most from your board, figure out what you need-and what trustees can provide” discusses the roles and responsibilities of board members as well as the values any board member can bring to the museum.

Genoways, Ireland, and Coltrane shared similar understanding of what roles and responsibilities are for museum boards. Coltrane stated other responsibilities including monitoring and strengthening programs and services; ensuring adequate financial resources; and ensuring legal and ethical integrity. She argued that we should take these responsibilities, and consider the skills and experiences each board member offers; therefore, we need to think of these responsibilities through the frame of a staff job description.

Coltrane brought up the thought of how many of the current board members have the skills and experiences listed in her article. While there are individuals who are sincere in helping moving the museum’s mission forward, we need to figure out how many of the board members have the capabilities to effectively run the museum and fulfil the mission.

I have stated in my previous blog post about museum boards that The best way to have a better understanding of how museum boards function is…to get to know your museum board members. To have a better understanding of our board members we need to find out the values they bring to our museums.

We could look at board members capabilities by understanding what ways board members can bring value. Coltrane stated that there are three ways any board member can bring value, and they are:

Have a willingness to learn

Extend civic reach

Help the CEO think

If our board members have the ability to learn new methods and techniques in addition to reaching out in the community, we would be able to have board members effectively help the museum make the progress it needs.

To build a successful board, and the relationship between board and staff, we need to ensure that trust is there from the beginning. I recommend finding some resources about museum boards, especially this edition of Museum magazine, and communicating with your board members. Each board and staff member is essential to keeping the museum functioning, and when everyone is doing their part museums have the potential to succeed in guaranteeing its future.

How does your museum assess board members and their progress? Does your museum have additional methods that helped staff and board members in their roles and responsibilities?

Museum magazine, January/February 2018, The Right Fit: Strategies for creating your ideal board
How to Work With Museum Boards: A Relationship Between the Staff and the Board
Genoways, Hugh H., Lynne M. Ireland, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, Museum Administration 2.0, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

What Can We Do About Admission Fees to Our Museums?

Added to Medium, January 11, 2018

In the 1970s, the Metropolitan Museum of Art developed an admissions policy that allowed all visitors could pay what they wished or what they were able. However, according to National Public Radio, beginning March 1st adults who live outside New York state and who are out of school will have to pay $25 to enter the museum; seniors will pay $17, students outside the tri-state area will pay $12, and children under 12 will still enter for free.

Since The Met’s Admission policy change was announced, the museum community has talked about the debate on admission rates for museums. When I heard about the change in the admissions policy, I had mixed reactions to the news. On the one hand there is a risk of alienating potential visitors from having access to museum’s exhibits and programs, and on the other hand I understand that securing funding for museums is never easy.

It has been a week since the announcement was made, and I read a number of articles as well as blog posts about it. Also, I participated in a discussion with other museum professionals in the field. After reading about and discussing this announcement, I do have mixed feelings on it still but, like everyone else discussing it, it made me think more about the admission fee issue and about my experiences dealing with admission policies. As a museum professional, I have heard so many visitors opinions on admission fees being too high and too low.

Many museums have different admission policies based on their operation budgets and funding they may or may not receive from donors and sometimes the government. The decision on what the admission prices to museums is not an easy one to make. Many museum professionals and visitors debate over what would be an appropriate amount to pay admission to museums.

Seema Rao stated on her website Brilliant Idea Studio in her blog “Let them Eat Cake (Instead of Visiting the Met): The Problems with the Metropolitan Museum’s Ticket Fee” her thoughts on the Met’s change in the admission policy. One of the points she stated about the issues it raises for her was on a museum’s value vs. cost; she described three types of museum visitors and pointed out that museums need to understand that fees mean different things to different people.

Last week I participated in the MuseumEdChat discussion where we talked about admission fees for museums. For those not familiar with MuseumEdChat, it is a group discussion that takes place on Thursdays on Twitter. The moderator asked participants questions based on the admission fees topic.

One of the questions asked was: What are your thoughts about ticket fees? I responded with,

A1 1/2 I think it depends on the museum because each museum has different budgets, and amounts of revenues. Some museums depend heavily on admission sales and others depend on admission sales a little less since they may have more assistance from grants #MuseumEdChat
A1 2/2 It is hard to tell all museums to stop ticket sales since no museum is exactly the same as another. #museumedchat

I was asked if there are factors that help the museum make the ideal decision on ticket fees. In response I stated that,

Museum professionals should collaborate with their financial department colleagues to look at current/past records and the trends between increases/decreases in ticket fees. If we know where we came from financially, it would be simpler to know how we can proceed #museumedchat

It is important for colleagues to collaborate with one another to keep the museum fulfilling its mission. Museum departments can learn how to help their museum function by learning about finances from their financial departments or from other resources if there is no financial department. We would have a better understanding of how museums function by learning about grants, fundraisers, income reports, et. al.

Another question that was asked during the MuseumEdChat was: What is the ideal role of education in fundraising? During the conversation I pointed out that

Education can show the responses and reactions of both staff and visitors who participate in museum programs. By sharing these responses/reactions, we can make an argument on how funding is significant in running a program (time and supplies for example) #museumedchat

When I was at the Long Island Museum, I and the rest of the education department gave a presentation to the Board about the programs that have occurred and ones that were coming up. We shared results of participants reactions, and the statistics of how many people have attended the programs and the amount of revenue each program generated. By giving a presentation to a Board of Directors and donors in a meeting or fundraiser, education departments have the opportunity to show how their programs benefit the museum. The Met was not the only museum that is looking into changing its admission fees.

Other museums have also considered changing their admission prices as well. The Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago History Museum, for instance, are seeking approval from the Chicago Park District for admission-fee increases. Both of the museums are asking the Park District Board to vote on raising general admission fees effective on February 1st to help offset increased costs in building maintenance and operations.

In the end, the debate over admission policies are not easy to come to a conclusion on this subject. Museum professionals should keep in mind all aspects of funding, including admission fees.

What was your reaction to the Met’s change in admission policy? How do you feel about museum admission fees?

Resources to What I Referenced and Read on the Admission Fee:

Our Museum Plans for 2018

Added to Medium, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year! I am back to writing more on this blog after taking time to celebrate the holidays and work on holiday activities with museum visitors. We are officially in 2018, and there is so much to hope to accomplish this year in museums.

For instance, I hope to continue molding my skills as a museum education professional and help my field become a more inclusive field. With the museum field continuing to grow, we learn from one another about how we can serve our communities and help our colleagues fulfill their personal and professional goals. I am thankful to all of you who have continued to read my blog posts, and reading what I have to say about the field.

We all gather together in person and online to share what we learned in the field, and it is important to work together to move the museum field forward. Many museum professionals have been discussing their wishes and resolutions for 2018.

For instance, there are museum professionals that expressed their wish to dedicate time to read more books in the field. In the Sustainable Museums blog, they talked about one of the books that are written about the future of museums.

The author did a short book review of The Future of Natural History Museums, edited by Eric Dorfman and published by Routledge for the International Council of Museums (ICOM). According to the blog post, The Future of Natural History Museums takes a look at “where natural history museums have been, are right now, and may rightly go if their staff and leaders are courageous enough to venture forth in the manner humanity requires.” While this book is for and about natural history museums, the arguments presented in the book can be easily widen to all types of museums since it is our responsibility as a field to provide research and discussion about what we all can do to preserve our planet’s future.

Other museum professionals also focus on what we can do as a museum community to continue to improve visitors awareness of what we offer.

On the Wilkening Consulting website, Susie Wilkening pointed out what museums need to do based on the survey results from the 2017 Annual Survey of Museum Goers. She revealed that we have to do much better identifying extrinsic motivations for learning, meeting those needs, and articulating them in our promotional materials. Also, Wilkening stated that museums need to be able to express their practical impact in the community. In other words, museums should find out how museums philosophically matter to people in the community not just as an assessment tool. She argued that museums are likely to open more minds, cultivate compassion and empathy, and create connection and community.

Creating a connection with the community can also include working on establishing the museums relationship with colleges and universities.

In the article “Imagining What Museums Might Become” written by Seph Rodney, they wrote about a multifaceted conversation on the future of museums that took place at the CUNY Graduate Center, and noted some of the contrasting and competing visions for what the museums might become. According to the article, the CUNY Graduate Center hosted a discussion on the Next Generation of Museums answering questions of that museums can be and what they should be.

The four panelists Ken Arnold, Svetlana Alpers, Jeff Levine, and D. Graham Burnett approached the question from distinct, and sometimes opposed, vantage points, according to the article. Each panelists shared their perspectives in the museum field, and gave their opinions on cultivating the relationship between museums and universities.

Ken Arnold, who is the director of the Medical Museion in Coopenhagen and creative director at the Welcome Trust in London, gave a presentation that argued “museums can provide wider audiences and can mount deeper and more well-researched exhibitions when partnered with a university.”

Meanwhile Svetlana Alpers, a professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, stated that she wasn’t entirely sure “the new generation of institutions are indeed museums at all.” She explained her perspective, which mainly is from an object-based background, using historical examples including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to talk about how museums were once havens for learning craft (such as weaving) to contrast them with new institutions such as The Shed (New York’s first multi-arts center designed to commission, produce, and present all types of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture), which seem structured as platforms for a variety of types of social, intellectual, and playful interactions.

This article presented interesting perspectives that are worth continuing the discussion. Museums have so much to offer to our audiences and visitors need to be more aware of what we offer.

Museum professionals have also express the importance of not only taking care of our relationships with our communities but we also need to maintain our relationship between our museums and the staff/boards that work within them.

Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin’s Leadership Matters blog discussed their wishes for 2018 in the museum field. Some of the wishes they expressed in their post include:

Museums commit to an open, fair, equitable hiring process; that they cease posting jobs without posting salaries, and that they stop insisting on a graduate degree for every position.

Museums make time to hit pause, to plan, to think big, fight mediocrity and encourage community engagement. Consider how you will nourish creativity among your staff.

All museums articulate their organizational values and figure out tangible ways to live by them….every day. Doing so will keep them agile and responsive.

That museums remember that empathy isn’t just for the visiting public; it belongs in the workplace and boardroom too.

These are wishes I also have for our field in 2018. I expressed similar wishes in one of my previous blog posts about the new year, and I reiterate here that if we help museums improve as a workplace we will be more effective within the community.

Even at the beginning of the new year we delve into serious topics in the museum field we need to address. Since it has been announced that The Met is changing their admissions policy that will be instated on March 1st, there has been discussion about ticket fees for visitors to access museums’ exhibits and programs among the museum professionals. This decision has made us take a look at our own museums and evaluate what works for our financial operations. There is no one simple answer for every museum since we are all different museums that operate in various ways. I will continue this discussion in next week’s blog but this is a thought that we need to keep in mind as we make resolutions for our museums.

What are your hopes for your museums or organization in 2018?


What Museums Hope For 2018

Added to Medium, December 14, 2017

As 2018 approaches, I have been thinking more about what I hope the museum field will accomplish in this upcoming new year. What I hope for 2018 as a museum professional is to have an improved work environment in the museum community and continue our work to have more inclusive accessible museum programming. We need to continue to remember we are a changing society and our practices need to reflect our communities wishes to remain relevant.

Museum professionals especially throughout social media such as Twitter have been thinking about what they hope for 2018. On Twitter, there is a hashtag being shared: #museumtrends2018. There has been a lot of discussion about what the future of museums can be, and I hope we can make the changes and adaptations needed to continue to collaborate within our communities and around the world.

American Alliance of Museums magazine, Museum, has recently discussed about the future of museums in their most recent edition, Museum 2040. I previously discussed this edition in a previous blog post “Creating an Environment-Friendly World with Museums” which focused on the museums encouraging our communities to work towards a more environmentally friendly world. While this edition of Museum magazine was written as if we are in the year 2040, the information presented in the magazine can inspire museum professionals to take actions that would help create an environment-friendly community. Our world continues to change, and museums as well as any institution also need to recognize this change and learn how to change with it.

We need to consider changes we need to make on a personal and professional level as well to help ourselves be in a healthy environment. Many museum professionals have gathered together to think about what we want to work towards in 2018. Seema Rao posted a survey last month on Twitter asking museum professionals what trends we are most likely working towards for 2018.

According to the survey results, the themes for 2018 trends in museum education are equity and inclusion, workplace issues, and visitor-centered experiences. Some of the trends in the equity and inclusion include fostering relevance, social justice, and museum ethics. Workplace issues in the survey results include money, jobs, and stress. The visitor-centered experiences shared in the results include digital experiences, skill development, and student and family programs.

When I read about the survey results, I was not surprised to see these main themes and trends for 2018. Each of these themes are especially important for the museum professional community who continue to find ways to make their institutions relevant to our continuously changing society. We are recognizing that our society is more politically correct than when museums first appeared in our nation, and we understand that we need to reflect this in our staff, board, and museum practices.

It is particularly hard for many museum professionals to stay in the field in its current work condition. Since we are discussing this more in recent months I hope for our field that we continue this discussion and work on making the changes we need to fulfill our personal and professional expectations for our museum work.

Our work in the museum also needs to adapt to our visitors and potential visitors needs for an engaging museum experience. As technology continues to make advances, museums try to adapt to these changes by creating digital programs that allow more opportunities to interact with museums’ collections and narrative.

The survey continued with more specific results that revealed we are most likely not going to see immediate results within the next five years.

Rao pointed out that museum education in 2018 would like to offer visitors a high-quality, inclusive experiences but feel real challenges in order to do so like funding and training. Also, survey respondents indicated that museum educators do not foresee that the problems in the field will improve in the next five years since there were real concerns about balancing technology and collections-based experiences and there were also real fears about challenges for the future in terms of funding and staffing.

Current conditions in our field such as the lack of proper funding and training do prevent us from providing high-quality and inclusive experiences. We continue to argue our case for museums needs to have appropriate funding during Museum Advocacy Days, and by continuing our discussion on these days in Washington D.C. each year we increase awareness as well as inspire measures to increase funding.

I do not believe that all of the challenges we face as museum educators will be resolved overnight. If we continue to plead our case and continue this discussion, we would be able to work towards having better experiences in addition to sufficient funding and staffing. Since we do not know how much we can accomplish at this moment, we also see what survey participants say could be trends in 2022.

Museum educators, according to Seema Rao, pointed out in the survey that there was a greater disparity in themes for the 2022 trends since predicting so far out is more challenging. For 2022, the museum education field would perhaps be facing possible obsolescence, increasing equity, developing engaging experiences, and changes in technology.

It is hard to predict what may happen a few years down the road but I can see our museum community continue to work towards making museums more relevant in a changing society. I look forward to finding out what we accomplish in the upcoming year and I hope that museums continue to work towards relevant programming as well as better working environment.

What do you hope for 2018? Do you have New Years resolutions for yourself professionally?



Online Communities: Why They Are So Important for Museum Professionals

Originally added on Medium, December 7, 2017

One of the best ways for museum professionals to fulfill their professional growth is to learn from each other through online communities. I follow and participate in the Facebook group Emerging Museum Professionals and in #MuseumEdChat on Twitter. There are many Emerging Museum Professionals Facebook groups for local museum communities, and there is one that covers emerging museum professionals all over the nation, the National Emerging Museum Professionals group. While I do follow many local emerging museum professional groups in New England and New York, I mainly focus on the national group to be able to hear from other museum professionals to gain more perspective on the museum field on a national level. Since museums are utilizing social media to get visitors and potential visitors attention, it makes sense that museum professionals take advantage of social media to communicate with one another.

It is important that museum professionals have the opportunity to connect with one another since one of the best ways to continue adapting programs and exhibits is to learn from other museum professionals. Not many museum professionals have the opportunity to meet with others in person for various reasons especially not having enough time and money to invest in traveling to museum conferences and workshops.

When we have online discussions, we are able to connect with many museum professionals from around the country and in some cases around the world. Also, we are able to get inspirations for our own practices including but not limited to programs, exhibits, collections policies, and administrative practices.

According to their Facebook group, the National Emerging Museum Professionals network envisions communities in which museum professionals make meaningful connections within and across backgrounds, disciplines, and institutions by: providing leadership, responding to changing needs, enriching experiences, growing capabilities, sharing resources, advocating for the museum profession, connecting groups on a local and national level.

In the National Emerging Museum Professionals group, there are many topics discussed among participants in the group. Some examples include but not limited to resume help, volunteer recruitment, advice on how to write a collections management policy, how volunteers can be recognized/appreciated, and looking for inspiration for youth programming. Any of the members post questions or discussion points posed to other participants in the network, and many give their responses based on their experiences.

I find these discussions helpful because I find out what other museum professionals have done in similar projects I have worked on at the time. I participate in the discussions and I also save conversations on Facebook so I can refer to them later to get some inspiration for my work in the museum field.

As well as Facebook, I also participate in the #MuseumEdChat discussions on Twitter. Museum Ed Chat hosts discussions usually on Thursdays from 8pm to 9pm to chat about museum education in addition to general museum topics. Each account holder of the MuseumEdChat account takes turns hosting the chat, and the topics vary on each discussion. The discussions begin with questions posed by the host and those who are participating live can respond with their answers. If one could not participate in the discussion live, they are encouraged to still answer the questions on their Twitter page and use the hashtag to make sure their responses are noticed by other followers. This Twitter discussion is open to all museum professionals not just museum educators since we all work towards the mission to educate the public using the resources we have in our collections and programs.

I participated in tonight’s #MuseumEdChat discussion which was about reflecting on this past year and what we hope to accomplish next year. One of the questions included: What are you most proud of from work this year? My response to this question was “I am the most proud when I see a smile on a kid’s face, and thank me for all the help I give them. I especially love it when they give me little gifts to show how they really appreciate the time they spent in a program.”

Another example of the questions posed in tonight’s discussion was: What are some big themes you noticed in the field in 2018? I knew that there are many themes that are discussed in our field especially within the past few months but I decided to respond with “I noticed that one of the big themes this year is how we should strengthen our connections with schools and other departments in the museum field. I hope we continue discussing this theme as well as many other themes in 2018.” It is important that we establish and strengthen our connections to pursue our missions and help others within our communities.

Other big themes I noticed stood out to me since these have been recently talked about and are especially relevant for the upcoming year. According to Seema Rao, for instance, she stated “Burnout and learning to handle change seemed like big themes of the year; and frankly, some people figuring out if they should leave the field.” It is challenging to stay in the field in our current state in the economy, and it is easy to feel less motivated so finding ways to inspire us is especially important. I am glad that we continue to have this discussion, and it is an important topic to continue talking about in 2018.

I also believe that we need to work on being able to take the time to focus on ourselves and think about our practice as museum professionals. I was glad to see that another participant in the discussion pointed this out tonight. One participant pointed out that “Finding consistent time to reflect on my practice, students’ work, and the overarching state of the field. In some ways that is my job, but I’ve been busy with other things the past six months. Carving out think time: the biggest priority for the coming year.”

When I read that statement, I kept thinking about how there are so many things I need to think about in my own practice and what is going on in the field. A lot of times I have been busy with many things both personally and professionally that I think there is not enough time in the day to do so. I am glad that I have been writing in my blog for over a year now since I am able to take this time to write about what is going on and react to what is happening. There is so much out there that I do not always have the time to write about all of it so I try to read as much as I can. I think we all need to remind ourselves to take that time and learn how we can be better museum professionals.

We should take advantage of our online connections, and see what we can learn from the experiences as we continue to move the museum field forward.

What social media discussions have you find the most helpful in your work? Are there other social media outlets you follow that offer similar help in your work?