Course Topics


AAMG Academic Museum Leadership Seminar

In partnership with the Kellogg School of Management
Center for Nonprofit Management at Northwestern University

Today’s Governance Challenges
This session will help academic museum leaders understand the many challenges in effectively engaging advisory (versus governance) boards and negotiating the museum’s place within its parent institution, including best practices for reporting structures. This session will highlight the important leadership partnership between the director and advisory board, critical for meeting the museum’s mission, raising funds, and effectively engaging the museum’s other stakeholders. This session will also address the importance for directors to insure maximum impact of the museum’s programs on parent institutions of higher learning, safeguarding the museum and collection’s educational value by aligning their museum/gallery missions closely with that of their university/college. Participants will be encouraged to think creatively about successful leadership.

Leadership In Action
Museums are often cited as among the most trusted of public institutions. Building strong community trust among all of the museum’s constituencies is essential to their success. This session will help academic museum leaders understand key communications strategies that will lead to the formation of a solid and respected profile and thus greater success for their museums. Through lectures and several interactive exercises, participants will learn how better to 1) communicate with internal and external stakeholders; 2) motivate people within the organization; 3) deal with breaches of trust and; 4) learn about crisis communications management.

Negotiations and Decision Making
Successful academic museum leaders create key partnerships and profitably engage a vast array of constituents, including university administrators, students, faculty, volunteers, the media, community organizations, and donors. Often, engaging stakeholders in making key decisions is complex and requires a clear vision of not only the values and goals of the museum, but the motivations and goals of those most intimately engaged with it. Such values-based leadership involves the ability to take the disparate value propositions of various stakeholders and integrate them into a coherent vision. In this session we will explore how recognizing and incorporating competing values throughout the organization can be facilitated, or hindered, by a number of psychological, organizational, and cultural processes. This session will offer participants the opportunity to develop better decision-making skills and will be designed to be relevant to a broad spectrum of decisions.

Fundraising is essential to the success of academic museums and competition for resources is significant. This session will address the key issues for museum leaders seeking financial support from individuals, foundations and corporations. Specifically, it will discuss the importance of strong and clear programs goals, the necessity of measurable results, the vehicles available for communicating to the community, the importance of understanding the organization’s audience(s), and the specific pointers on how to ask for a gift. Important to the museum’s success is volunteer fundraising. As volunteer fundraisers for the museum, alumni and advisory committee members play a critical role, but volunteers may be reluctant to “jump” into fundraising. This session will highlight the important leadership partnership between staff and volunteers required for successful fundraising as well as address the key tactics to engage volunteers actively in fundraising. The session will also discuss the need for museum leaders to educate development officers as they represent the museum to prospective supporters and assist museum directors in discerning best practices for accepting art and artifacts from donors.

Navigating the Complexities of Academic Museum Finance
Most directors have moved into leadership because of their passion and commitment to their academic fields and to the mission of their museums, without benefit of significant management or financial training. Meanwhile, directors find themselves overseeing increasingly complex financial issues. This session will address the key principles of financial management including understanding financial statements and managing complex sources of revenues such as dedicated endowments, earned income, and foundation and corporate grants. This session will also teach participants about trends recognizable in the numbers that help predict the financial implications of managerial decisions, and how to work most effectively with financial executives.

Applying “Customer-Focused” Marketing Strategies in the Nonprofit World
This session will look at some of the best practices of marketing strategy and how they can be applied to the challenges faced by academic museum leaders, including how these strategies fit into an academic context and function within sometimes restrictive institutional marketing guidelines. The session will address market segmentation and negotiation of the museum’s brand within the context of its parent organization’s branding expectations. It will discuss changes in the nation’s demographics and how to communicate and engage multiple generations of audiences. Finally, it will address how, in the increasingly competitive world of fundraising, to position individual museums to enhance the value of giving for potential donors.

Crisis Leadership — Successful leaders have recognized that challenges are best mastered by a commitment to value-based management. However, simply “doing the right thing” is not enough. Rather, organizations increasingly find themselves as targets of aggressive legal action, media coverage and social pressure. Organizations must be prepared to handle rapidly changing environments and anticipate potential threats. This requires a deep understanding of the strategic complexities in managing various stakeholders and constituencies. To confront participants with these challenges in a realistic fashion, this session would be structured around a rich set of challenging case studies and crisis simulation exercises.

Leading Change — In today’s turbulent times, change is a fact of life for most organizations. Whether it is a change in leadership, culture, requirements or demographics, paid and volunteer leaders play a key role in this dynamic environment. This session will discuss the management of change and the skills necessary to ensure the organization’s future growth. It will address key drivers of change and how to motivate various constituents to support and embrace change.