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Congratulations, it’s a baby Professional Network!

Category: News
Image of a newborn baby swaddled in a white blanket.
Photo by Julie Johnson on Unsplash

Today, in conjunction with AAM and my brilliant colleagues Sarah Erdman and Dina Bailey, I’m excited to announce the arrival on the scene of a new Professional Network just for consultants, freelancers, gig workers–whatever you call yourself if you are part of the gig economy. The Independent Museum Professionals Network is born!

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For the past 10 years, I’ve been working as a consultant after losing my full-time museum job in the 2008 recession. I originally thought that the “consulting gig” would be a temporary career move – just until I found my next big museum job. Friends helped me form and formalize my business and my wonderful museum colleagues steered work in my direction (thank you). I’m happy to have made consulting my full-time work. But the formal, structured support system I needed as a museum consultant was not there. Where can I look for a sample contract? How do I find RFPs to bid on? Is anyone else out there struggling to get paid on time? Where is the directory to list me as a consultant?

We know that Independent Museum Professionals come from every corner of the museum field – educators, curators, registrars, exhibit designers, fundraisers, public relations, etc. – and have common needs that go beyond their content specialty. This PN aims to help fill those gaps, to provide a place to find answers to the questions you’ve always wanted to ask other consultants, and to get and give support.

Our mission statement reads:

The Independent Museum Professionals Network provides a central hub of resources, knowledge and connections. It actively works to support independent museum professionals as well as strengthen the relationship between independent museum professionals and museums.

The purpose of this network is:

  • to have a place where IMPs can connect and ask questions of others who do this kind of work both at in-person events and through a digital forum; and,
  • to help IMPs find targeted professional development that will help people at each stage of their careers by collaborating with other groups both inside AAM and externally.

Even if you’re not an Independent Professional, chances are you know one or have worked with one. We also want this Professional Network to be a resource for museums in general, namely:

  • to help the wider museum field understand how to effectively find and use IMPs by providing printed and digital resources, workshops, and networking events; and,
  • to collaborate with other Professional Networks (PNs) on programs that benefit ALL museum professionals and support institutions in their use of independent museum professionals.

According to the AAM database, 2,179 members identify as Independent Museum Professionals. I’m proud to be one of them and honored to serve as Acting Chair of this PN until we hold our elections. If you’re interested in joining us by serving on the steering committee and/or being a candidate for a leadership position, the first step is to join as a member of the PN. It’s easy to add this PN to your membership, simply log in, click edit profile, and scroll down to choose your networks! To get to know us, we have a few events and meetings planned for the AAM Annual Meeting in New Orleans:

  • Organizing Meeting: Sunday, May 19 from 9:00-11:00 in the Headquarters Hotel – Marriott New Orleans. What issues are top of mind for you? What resources would be most helpful? Your input will help us get started and focus our work.
  • Reception: Monday, May 20 from 5:00 – 6:30; Headquarters Hotel – Marriott New Orleans lobby bar
  • Networking Conversation: Tuesday, May 21 from 10:00-11:00 in the Solution Center. Are you interested in serving on the steering committee or the leadership team? We want to hear from you!

We welcome your ideas for how this PN can serve and work with you and the entire museum field. Together, I hope we can shape and grow this new PN into a strong resource for and voice from the field. Help us celebrate the birth of this new PN!

Joining a Professional Network is a benefit of Individual Professional Membership in AAM. Not a member? Join now!


Claudia B. Ocello is President & CEO of Museum Partners Consulting, LLC and Acting Chair of AAM’s new Independent Museum Professionals Network.

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Comments

1 Comment

  1. Claudia – you may want to check out the Museum Store Association; while it’s main focus is on professional development for museum store managers, they offer much more including a networking forum for museum professionals, and sources for RFI’s, RFP’s and other documentation for which you are seeking. Joining Museum Store Association will put you in direct contact with other museum professionals who are more than willing to share their experiences. You also may want to “toss your hat into the ring” to see how your consulting business fay fit the educational needs for the next MSA conference. The conferences are attended not only by museum professionals but also vendors; a vendor advisory committee is also a valuable part of the organization.

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