Editorial Guidelines

The Alliance Blog provides the museum community with a place to share stories and insights, in their own voice, reaching thousands of people across the global museum field. We welcome contributions from anyone with a profound interest in museums.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for posts that empower museum professionals to do their best work; speak to a wide breadth of museum types, sizes, and disciplines; and reveal new, surprising ideas and connections.

Successful posts do one or more of the following:

  • Identify a novel, noteworthy, or progressive model of excellent museum practice
  • Discuss an important or timely topic emerging in museum practice, with examples
  • Provide guidance on navigating a widespread challenge in the museum field
  • Share research or other valid and reliable information relevant to museum work

Within those parameters, we are open to any topic that might interest you, but we are especially interested in topics that affirm the contributions museums and museum professionals make to society and connect to AAM’s strategic priority areas of Social & Community Impact and DEAI & Anti-racism.

What are we not looking for?

  • Promotional content or advertising. We welcome those who work in companies that serve the museum field to write posts that draw on their expertise and align with our editorial guidelines, but we do not accept submissions that are designed to showcase those companies’ products or services. We do, however, offer paid advertorial opportunities for this purpose.
  • Speculative or opinion-driven essays. Instead of emphasizing hypothetical things museums could or should do, your post should showcase existing examples of work that others might learn from. We find readers are most interested in the practical nuances of how to achieve something, so speaking from experience works best.
  • Academic articles. The blog is designed to be an informal source for candid and reflective insights about museum practice, not an academic journal. You are welcome to write about research you have done in an academic context, but your post should not follow the conventions or tone of an academic publication.
  • Press releases or announcements. If your goal is simply to announce a new exhibition, program, or initiative to our audience, fill out our “What’s New at Your Museum?” form instead, which we use to source content for a section in Museum magazine. If you want to share career news or personnel updates, you can fill out our “What’s Your Career News?” form. (Note: an AAM member login is required to access the form.)
  • Narrow or discipline-specific topics. No matter what area of practice and type of museum you work in, your post should make sense to, and potentially be applicable to, professionals in a wide range of museum jobs and settings. We welcome posts that speak to a certain area of museum work, but they should still be written for a general museum field audience.
  • Ideas or initiatives that are already commonplace or well-known in the museum field. Your post should share something that will surprise, stimulate, and educate museum people, not tell them something they are already likely to know.
  • Posts that malign specific individuals or institutions. Blog posts should be constructive and beneficial to the field at large. You may critique widespread challenges and practices that you have experienced in the field, but refrain from singling out specific people and institutions in the process.
  • Politically partisan or divisive content. We welcome material that addresses societal issues, including controversial ones, but they should not be framed in partisan terms.

What’s the process?

  • Submit your story idea using the Idea Submission Form.
  • We’ll contact you within two weeks regarding the editorial fit of your idea.
  • If the idea is approved, we’ll contact you to schedule a submission date for a first draft.
  • After submission, we’ll give you feedback. If the post moves forward to publication, we will provide copyediting support.

What to do

Get conversational

We encourage you to use a candid, reflective, personal tone. Try to connect with other museum professionals in your situation, being honest about challenges and uncertainties and sharing what you’ve learned that might be helpful to others.

Be clear and concise

Try to write with focus and clarity for the sake of your audience. Identify the point of the post early on and stick to it. Organize the post into distinct sections and avoid tangents or diversions within them. Use active voice when possible, structuring sentences around clear subjects and verbs. Avoid discipline- or institution-specific jargon when possible, and when you must use terms that are likely to be unfamiliar to many readers, define them in writing the first time you use them.

Aim for your post to be somewhere between 1000-1500 words, though shorter or longer can be acceptable when the material warrants.

Include links

Use hyperlinks to refer readers to the institutions, resources, people, or projects you mention, and to cite any sources or research you use, rather than a bibliography or citations list. Embed the links directly onto applicable words or phrases in the text.

Include pictures

If possible, please provide images to accompany your post. The best photos tend to be well-lit, in focus, and visually dynamic, with any people featured in them mid-action rather than posed. You must have permission to use the photos and be able to give us permission to use them. Include any credits we should use for the photos upon sending them.

All posts need at least one landscape (horizontal) photo that can be used as the feature image at the top of the page. The dimensions of this photo are constrained to 1280 x 720 px, so this photo must be at least 1280 px wide and suitable for cropping. You may also include additional photos in the body of the post, which can be any size and dimensions. You can also submit a photo of yourself to use with your byline.

Identify yourself

For your byline and author bio, please provide your name and a short bio of around fifty words. By identifying your institution, you agree that your employer is aware of any content you provide to us for publishing.

Follow our style tips

  • Use only one space after periods.
  • Spell proper names correctly and give a person’s complete job title in the first reference.
  • Do not capitalize words like “museum,” “garden,” or “zoo” when they appear alone, such as “our museum turns fifty this year.” If necessary, you may consider using an acronym as the shortened name for your institution instead.
  • Refer to institutions with the pronouns “it” and “its,” such as “the science museum redesigned its website last year.” Only use “they” and “their” when the subject of the sentence is the staff or a team at a museum.
  • For any other style questions, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style. (We will review the post for Chicago style compliance during copyediting.)

The fine print

We review posts before publication for style and grammar—we reserve the right to edit posts to conform to our style sheet and these guidelines.

We do not currently offer monetary compensation for submissions, but we do provide editorial support and visibility for our authors and their institutions.

All authors retain copyright and grant AAM non-exclusive rights to publish and share submitted articles on its various publishing platforms. If you do repost or republish your article elsewhere, we request that you include a line that reads, “This piece originally appeared on the American Alliance of Museums website on [DATE],” including a link to the original article.

We will consider publishing posts originally published elsewhere with a note and a link to the original article, with the express permission of the original publisher.

We will not publish any content deemed offensive, threatening, defamatory, or otherwise inappropriate in our editorial judgment.

The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of AAM or its employees.

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