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Read Up on Financial Sustainability for #AAM2019

Category: Alliance Blog

This year’s AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo carries the theme of “Sustaining Vibrant Museums,” a nod to financial sustainability.

While financial sustainability might sound like a specialized concern, only relevant to a small part of the field, it’s a much more far-reaching topic than it might seem at first glance. Without financial sustainability, there are no museums to fill and operate in the first place. Museums of all sizes struggle to align their visions with their resources, and inadequate foresight in this can lead to difficult (and often avoidable) situations.

Every job function within a museum has a role to play in ensuring financial sustainability, whether that means attracting new audiences, facilitating positive and enlightening experiences onsite, connecting to financial supporters, or allocating resources. Thinking sustainably need not mean scaling back or pinching pennies; rather, it is an opportunity to dream bigger and better, to think clearly about what is important and what counts.

Here’s to an open, insightful, and invigorating conversation on the topic at #AAM2019 in New Orleans. Use the meeting and the dialogues that open around it to learn, share, and debate strategies for creating and sustaining a vibrant future for museums.

An excellent place to start your thinking is in the archives of AAM’s publications, where we’ve shared perspectives, case studies, and musings on the theme for years.

AAM members can begin with the current issue of Museum magazine, which is dedicated solely to financial sustainability and features the latest perspectives on museum entrepreneurship, venture funds, measuring social impact, building loyalty, and letting go of programs that have outlived their value.

One feature article from the issue is available to anyone for free:

Our Alliance and Center for the Future of Museums blogs have also been on the beat, uncovering a range of ideas on what the financial future of museums looks like and what approaches will help get them there:

Assessing Museum Financial Sustainability: What Kind of Monster is Under Your Bed?

Why You Don’t Want To Be Nice

Why Not To Run Your Museum “More Like A Business”

What Museums Can Learn from Amanda Palmer

Time to Partner Up

A Funder’s Take: How Museum Professionals and Citizen Artists Are Reinventing Our Cultural Institutions

The Most Important Question to Ask in a Capital Campaign

Is It Time to Break Your Museum’s Organizational Mold?

A Snoopy license plate delivers more than mere peanuts to California museums


Check out these articles to stimulate and sharpen your thinking on financial sustainability. If you have your own responses, case studies, or theories to share, drop us a line here and join the body of voices discussing the topic on the site.

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