Organizational Assessment Resources

Critical Issues Checklist

Mission and Planning

  • Do staff and governing authority members have a clear, shared understanding of the museum’s mission?
  • Is the mission one that the museum has the ability and resources to fulfill?
  • Are policies, procedures and resource allocation focused on fulfilling the mission?
  • Are staff and governing authority members engaged in an effective planning process for the museum’s future?
  • If there is a current plan, is it being used to address the museum’s major challenges, and is it guiding the museum’s actions?

Interpretation

Audience and Visitors
  • Does the museum clearly identify its target audiences and take appropriate steps to serve their needs?
  • Is the museum gathering information about its audiences and visitors and using it to evaluate performance and guide planning?
Community
  • Does the museum have a clear understanding of its role in the community?
  • Is the community active in and supportive of the  museum?
Public Programs
  • Are the educational goals of the museum clearly articulated and appropriate to its mission, audiences and resources?
  • Do the museum’s programs meet the needs of audiences?
Exhibitions
  • Do the exhibitions reflect the museum’s mission?
  • Does the museum have a process for exhibit selection and development that:
    • makes appropriate use of collections and human resources;
    • meets audience needs; 
    • and serves the financial needs of the museum?
Research (for museums conducting or supporting research)
  • Does the quality and extent of research fulfill the potential of the collections?
Publications
  • Do the publications have appropriate goals for communicating with the museum’s audiences and community, and do they achieve these goals?
Marketing and Public Relations
  • Is the museum making good use of its resources to promote goods and services?
  • Does the museum have clear and appropriate goals for attendance?
  • Does it have a marketing plan that effectively supports these goals?

Collections Stewardship (for museums that own or borrow collections)

  • Are the collections appropriate to the museum’s mission?
  • Is the museum exercising responsible stewardship of the collections?
  • Is the museum making effective use of its resources to provide appropriate care for its collections?
  • Is the museum functioning legally and ethically in the way it obtains and maintains its collections?

Administration

  • Do staff have a clear understanding of their jobs?
  • Does the staffing meet the needs of the institution in terms of:
    • number of staff?
    • responsibilities?
    • training?
  • If not, what additional staff are needed most, and how could the museum obtain the resources to add them? 
Membership and Affiliate Organizations
  • Is the museum making effective use of membership and affiliated organizations to provide financial and other support?
  • Does the membership reflect the target audience of the museum, and is the number of members appropriate to the location and size of the museum?
Finance
  • Is the museum in good financial health?
  • Will its financial position and planning meet its current and future needs?
  • Is the governing body appropriately involved in the museum’s financial management and fund raising? What new or expanded sources of income, earned  and unearned, might the museum explore?
  • Is the budgeting process linked to institutional goals and planning?
Facilities
  • Does the museum have adequate facilities to support and fulfill its mission (e.g., collections, exhibitions, public programs, visitor services, parking)?
  • Does the museum have effective policies and procedures for maintaining the facilities in good, safe, working condition?
  • Is the museum using its facilities in ways that are in keeping with the mission? 
Safety and Security
  • Does the museum’s emergency preparedness address its greatest risks in an effective manner?
  • Does the museum provide a safe working environment for staff?
  • Does the museum provide a secure environment for the collections?

Governance

  • Do governing authority members have a clear and shared understanding of their roles and responsibilities in administering a public trust?
  • Does the composition of the governing authority meet the needs of the museum in fulfilling its mission and implementing its planning?
  • Is the governing authority operating in an effective manner?

Report Writing Guide

Each section below presents a set of guiding statements/questions to consider. Respond only to points that are most relevant to the institution. Be sure to provide an analysis of the museum’s strengths and weaknesses. For each section, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. How is or isn’t it working well?  
  2. How is it meeting best practices?
  3. What would you recommend?
Offer constructive criticism along with suggestions for resolution. Benchmark the institution’s current state of affairs in regards to national standards and best practices.

Title Page (1 page)

Include institution name, city, state; assessment type; visit dates; and peer reviewer’s name, title, institution.

Table of Contents (Optional; 1 page)

Executive Summary (1 page)

Provide a broad summary of the report, including background information, significant observations, identified strengths, areas needing improvement and  key recommendations.

Introduction (1/2 page)

Define MAP and its benefits. State the circumstances of your site visit—dates of the visit with whom you met (attach a copy of longer agendas in the appendix). List the museum’s goals for the assessment and any notable changes since the completion of their application and self-study workbook.

Brief Institutional History (1/2 page)

Provide the institution’s historical and physical context. Include a brief description of the museum’s current situation and important elements from its past (e.g., date founded, museum’s purpose, overview of exhibitions/collections, program highlights, etc.).

Mission and Planning (1-2 pages)

Evaluate the institution’s mission statement for clarity of purpose and how this statement guides its planning and decision-making. Consider this topic from the perspective of staff, governing authority and community stakeholders. Provide recommendations for how  the museum can further strengthen its mission and  planning with regard to its collections.

Interpretation and Education (1-2 pages)

Evaluate how the institution identifies its audiences and assesses/addresses their needs. How are collections used within exhibits and beyond? What publications does the institution produce, and what role do collections play, if any? What are your recommendations for improvement?

Collections Stewardship (1-2 pages)

Provide an overview of the collection management and assess its appropriateness to the institution’s mission. Determine the institution’s ability to demonstrate stewardship and care of its collections. Point out any areas for improvement and offer suggestions/resources on actionable steps the museum can take to improve the state of its collections and its collections policies and procedures.

Administration and Finance (2-3 pages)

Evaluate the institution’s financial/human resources and use of its facilities. Reflect on financial sustainability, adequacies of staffing and overall management and allocation of its facilities. Offer suggestions and guidance in areas not meeting best practices.

Governance (1-2 pages)

Evaluate the composition and functioning of the governing authority as they relate to its commitment to the mission and oversight of the organization. Provide  a sense of policies/procedures that define roles/responsibilities, recruitment/training and legal/ethical issues. How does governance play an active role in organizational planning? Is the governing authority managing  resources appropriately (i.e. collections, financial, human)? Does it have a full understanding of its legal and ethical responsibilities regarding the collections? Provide an analysis that communicates its strengths and shortcomings in this area and offer helpful suggestions for improvement.

Summary (1 page)

Summarize the major observations and recommendations of the report.

Recommendations (1-2 pages)

Provide a prioritized (if possible) list of all recommendations cited throughout the report.

Resources (1-2 pages)

Support your recommendations by providing a list of relevant books, articles, organizations, websites, etc.,  that you think will assist the organization in executing its plans.

Appendices (as needed)

Include sample documents or printed resources that support information you have provided in the report.

Average Report Length
: 15-25 pages double spaced; 12-20 pages single spaced

Organizing the Report

  • Organize your site-visit notes upon your return.
  • Re-familiarize yourself with the Self-Study Workbook and documentation.
  • Focus the report—organize your notes and thoughts within the designated headings.
  • Consider your intended audience(s) for the report as identified by the museum—staff, governing authority, donors and potential funders, community leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Don’t assume—provide enough detail for those not privy to the MAP process, but be concise.
  • Be cognizant of tone—the use of euphemisms and colloquial language can be misinterpreted.
  • Provide a balanced presentation of strengths and weaknesses of the institution.

Submitting the Report

  • Reports should be created and submitted as a Word document.
  • Double-check all facts and proofread the text carefully.
  • Send your report to the MAP office and not the museum. MAP staff reviews all reports before sending to the museum. Be timely. Reports should be e-mailed to the MAP office within four weeks of the site visit.
If you have any questions or need additional resources, please contact MAP staff at 202-289-9118 or map@aam-us.org.