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Small Museums Go Big

Category: Alliance Blog
Closeup of a rainbow colored hot air balloon floating against a clear blue sky.
Photo by Ricardo Dominguez on Unsplash

The November/December 2018 issue of Museum magazine focuses on small museums. We asked our Small Museum Administrators Committee to submit some examples of small museums doing innovative or interesting things with little resources.

Below are the top three issues and solutions:

The Latah County Historical Society


The Latah County Historical Society (LCHS) wanted a way to provide materials online but lacked the budget for most online solutions.


The Historical Society partnered with the Google Cultural Institute (now Google Arts & Culture) to provide access to LCHS materials free of charge. LCHS is scanning and updating metadata for materials and posting them for the world to access. This process is ongoing, and at the time of writing, LCHS has uploaded 1,500 of 15,000 images from the photo archive.

Gaithersburg Community Museum


With limited staff and budget, the Gaithersburg Community Museum found it difficult to create monthly programs to entice return visits.


The museum created monthly discovery days where they partner with local organizations. It’s both an outreach opportunity for the organizations and the museum gets diverse programming for little or no money. For example, an amateur radio and telegraphy day was sponsored by the local amateur radio club.

American Philosophical Society Museum


With a 1,150 square foot exhibition space, the American Philosophical Society Museum needed to be able to reuse and recycle exhibition materials in order to make the space workable, usable and looking good for rotating exhibitions.


The museum decided to invest in having cases made that they can alter as needed to be either hang on the wall or be free standing. This inventory of different size casework, that can be moved around and used wherever it is needed and is not limited by its structure is very useful.

Thank you to all of the museums that submitted ideas! If you work in a small museum post it in the comments below to be considered for potential inclusion in the list above. 

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