Core Standards for Museums in Plain English

Public Trust & Accountability

  • Be good
  • No really—not only be legal, but be ethical
  • Show everyone how good and ethical you are
  • (don’t wait for them to ask)
  • Do good for people
  • Know which people
  • And to be on the safe side
  • Be nice to everyone else, too
  • Especially if they live next door
  • Avoid cloning
  • Look something like the people you are doing good for
  • And maybe a bit like your neighbors
  • Let other people help decide what games to play
  • And what the rules are
  • Share your toys

Mission and Planning

  • Know what you want to do
  • And why it makes a difference to anyone
  • Then put it in writing
  • Stick to it
  • Decide what you want to do next
  • When you are deciding what to do, ask lots of people for their opinion
  • Put it in writing
  • Then do it
  • If it didn’t work, don’t do it again
  • If it did work, do

Leadership and Organizational Structure

  • Make sure everyone is clear about who is doing what
  • The board knows it is governing
  • The director knows she is directing
  • (and the board knows it too)
  • The staff know they are doing everything else
  • And have it in writing

Collections Stewardship

  • Know what stuff you have
  • Know what stuff you need
  • Know where it is
  • Take good care of it
  • Make sure someone gets some good out of it
  • Especially people you care about
  • And your neighbors

Education and Interpretation

  • Know who you are talking to
  • Ask them what they want to know
  • Know what you want to say
  • (and what you are talking about)
  • Use appropriate language (or images, or music)
  • Make sure people understood you
  • And ask them if they liked it
  • If not, change it

Financial Stability

  • Put your money where your mission is
  • Is it enough money?
  • Will it be there next year, too?
  • Know when you will need more $
  • Know where you are going to get it from
  • Don’t diddle the books

Facilities and Risk Management

  • Don’t crowd people
  • Or things
  • Make it safe to visit your museum
  • Or work there
  • Keep it clean
  • Keep the toilet paper stocked
  • And if all else fails, know where the exit is
  • (and make sure it is clearly marked)

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