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Collections Stewardship Assessment Report Writing Guide

Report Outline

Each section below presents a set of guiding statements/questions to consider. Respond only to points that are most relevant to the institution. Be sure to provide an analysis of the museum’s strengths and weaknesses. For each section, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How is or isn’t it working well?
  2. How is it meeting best practices?
  3. What would you recommend?

Offer constructive criticism along with suggestions for resolution. Benchmark the institution’s current state of affairs in regards to national standards and best practices.

Title Page (1 page)

Include institution name, city, state; assessment type; visit dates; and peer reviewer’s name, title, institution.

Table of Contents (Optional; 1 page)

Executive Summary (1 page)

Provide a broad summary of the report, including background information, significant observations, identified strengths, areas needing improvement and key recommendations.

Introduction (1/2 page)

Define MAP and its benefits. State the circumstances of your site visit—dates of the visit and with whom you met (attach a copy of longer agendas in the appendix). List the museum’s goals for the assessment and any notable changes since the completion of their application and self-study workbook.

Brief Institutional History (1/2 page)

Provide the institution’s historical and physical context. Include a brief description of the museum’s current situation and important elements from its past (e.g., date founded, museum’s purpose, overview of exhibitions/collections, program highlights, etc.).

Mission and Planning (1-2 pages)

Evaluate the institution’s mission statement for clarity of purpose and how this statement guides its planning and decision-making. Consider this topic from the perspective of staff, governing authority and community stakeholders. Evaluate any plans that are in place and specifically address the role of collections use, care and development. Provide recommendations for how the museum can further strengthen its mission and planning with regard to its collections.

Interpretation (1-2 pages)

Evaluate how the institution identifies its audiences and assesses/addresses their needs. How are collections used within exhibits and beyond? What publications does the institution produce, and what role do collections play, if any? What are your recommendations for improvement?

Collections Stewardship (3-4 pages)

Provide an overview of the collections (i.e. size, type). Determine the institution’s ability to demonstrate stewardship and care of its collections. Point out any areas for improvement and offer suggestions/resources on actionable steps the museum can take to improve the state of its collections and its collections policies and procedures. Be sure to include details on specific stewardship topics (i.e. (de)accessioning, loans, legal issues, backlog, safety, risk management, etc.)

Administration and Finance (1-2 pages)

Evaluate the institution’s financial/human resources and use of its facilities. Reflect on financial sustainability, adequacies of staffing and overall management and allocation of facilities. Offer suggestions and guidance in areas not meeting best practices.

Governance (1-2 pages)

Evaluate the composition and functioning of the governing authority as they relate to its commitment to the mission and oversight of the organization. Provide a sense of policies/procedures that define roles/responsibilities, recruitment/training and legal/ethical issues. How does the governance play an active role in organizational planning? Is the governing authority managing resources appropriately (i.e. collections, financial, human)? Does it have a full understanding of its legal and ethical responsibilities regarding the collections? Provide an analysis that communicates its strengths and shortcomings in this area and offer helpful suggestions for improvement.

Summary (1 page)

Summarize the major observations and recommendations of the report.

Recommendations (1-2 pages)

Provide a prioritized (if possible) list of all recommendations cited throughout the report.

Resources (1-2 pages)

Support your recommendations by providing a list of relevant books, articles, organizations, websites, etc., that you think will assist the organization in executing its plans.

Appendices (as needed)

Include sample documents or printed resources that support information you have provided in the report.

Average Report Length

15-25 pages double spaced; 12-20 pages single spaced

Organizing & Writing the Report

  • Organize your site-visit notes upon your return.
  • Re-familiarize yourself with the Self-Study Workbook and documentation.
  • Focus the report—organize your notes and thoughts within the designated headings.
  • Consider your intended audience(s) for the report as identified by the museum—staff, governing authority, donors and potential funders, community leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Don’t assume—provide enough detail for those not privy to the MAP process, but be concise.
  • Be cognizant of tone—the use of euphemisms and colloquial language can be misinterpreted.
  • Provide a balanced presentation of strengths and weaknesses of the institution.

Submitting the Report

  • Reports should be created and submitted as a Word document.
  • Double-check all facts and proofread the text carefully.
  • Send your report to the MAP office and not the museum. MAP staff reviews all reports before sending to the museum.
  • Be timely. Reports should be emailed to the MAP office within four weeks of the site visit. If you have any questions or need additional resources, please contact MAP staff at 202-289-9118 or map@aam-us.org.

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