Board Leadership Assessment


This advanced assessment is for private non-profit museums with boards that are primarily strategically focused rather than operationally focused (i.e., members do not function as staff) that are looking for guidance on how to strengthen their institution and ensure its long-term success through more effective leadership-oriented governance.

The assessment looks at the board from three perspectives—people, work, culture—and helps them identify opportunities to move the museum beyond surviving to thriving. It also helps strengthen the board’s understanding of museum ethics and standards


This assessment is designed to improve the board’s ability to:

  • Embrace and advance its strategic roles and responsibilities
  • Effectively lead the institution and ensure its long-term relevance and sustainability
  • Set a culture and practice of inclusion for itself and the museum’s actions and activities

And for the museum overall it can:

  • Improve communication and collaboration between the board and director, other board members, and key stakeholders
  • Help align its board composition to the needs of the organization and the community
  • Address competing or under-developed advocacy, governance, and fundraising roles
  • Prepare for core document verification, accreditation or reaccreditation


This assessment will examine:

  • People: Board Composition and Structure
    • Who’s on the board and who’s not; diversity, skills, connection to/reflection of community
    • Recruitment and orientation
    • Succession planning (board and director)
  • Work: Board Responsibilities
    • Advocacy (monitoring and engaging in public policy)
    • Advancing institutional diversity and inclusion
    • Raising money and financial oversight
    • Strategic planning
    • Performance and evaluation
  • Culture: Leadership and Board Dynamics
    • Accountability and ethics
    • Board-Director relationship
    • Museum Core Standards and ethics

Like all MAP assessments, this one:

  • Is grounded in the Core Standards
  • Includes Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion (DEAI) issues as they relate to the assessment focus
  • Helps museums look at both functional and strategic aspects of their operations
  • Uses an online platform to move through modules with narrated presentations, resources, and required activities throughout the entire year
  • Requires an internal MAP team to lead the museum and be responsible for the bulk of the online work, required activities, site visit organization, and action plans

An important component of each assessment is the MAP Workbook, which contains data gathering questions, team discussion questions, team activities, articles and more.  The museum’s MAP Team works on the workbook throughout the year. Review the Sample Board Leadership MAP Workbook Outline to learn more.

Before Applying

  • Review the main MAP Eligibility Requirements
  • Your institution MUST have:
    • A formal and approved mission statement which has been recently reviewed.
    • Bylaws
    • A paid director (regardless of title, this is someone that functions as the chief executive officer—the highest ranking member of staff that reports to the governing authority)
    • Financial sustainability and not be currently in crisis mode
  • Also, your museum’s board MUST be:
    • Active and aware of the involved role they will be playing in this assessment, both on the Assessment Team and during the site visit
    • Willing to look internally at their roles and responsibilities and commit to progressing through this assessment with transparency and honesty
    • Willing to be self-reflective and make changes
  • Prior completion of an Organizational Assessment is encouraged but not required
  • Ensure that your institution and key stakeholders are committed to a year-long process of assessment and taking action

Please Note: Advisory boards are not eligible to participate in the Board Leadership Assessment. This assessment is primarily designed for stand-alone museums that are 501(c)(3)s—organizations with boards that operate autonomously and have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization. If you have a parent company, you may be able to apply. See the MAP Application Form for details or call MAP staff at 202-289-9118.

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