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Community Engagement

The Alliance has compiled this set of community engagement resources from amongst its own offerings as well as those throughout the nonprofit and museum sector.

Alliance Resources

Making a Collection-Community Connection

This Museum magazine article explores how to leverage collections in order to engage with the museum’s community and reach new audiences. The article looks at 5 ways to attract visitors using collections: the use of mascots in social media (e.g., Owney); recruiting and using community curators; allowing members of the public to adopt an artifact; offering behind-the-scenes tours; and utilizing volunteers.

Making Your Case 101: What to Say, How to Say It, and Getting Your Staff and Visitors Involved in Your Museum’s Cause

Staff and visitors can be powerful advocates in supporting museum-friendly policies, whether at the local, state or federal level. This recorded, online advocacy day program explains how to engage museum visitors and supporters in the policy process, and looks at practical strategies for effective engagement, including real life examples from the museum world and online tools.

Welcoming Guidelines for Museums

The LGBTQ Alliance shares guidelines intended to provide institutions and members of the museum community with a series of parameters, which they may consider when assessing how to provide the LGBTQ community—staff, visitors, management, and allies from all fields—with a welcoming experience. (PDF, 64 pages)

Other Resources

The following resources were compiled from organizations throughout the nonprofit and museum sector. AAM reviewed and approved each one based on the organization’s authority and expertise and the resource’s usefulness related to the topic. Clicking the links below will take you off the AAM website.

4 Ways Historic House Museums Can Create More Meaningful Visitor Experiences

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) provides this blog post on what it takes to be considered one of the top history museums in the country.

Animating Democracy

Americans for the Arts sponsors Animating Democracy, a program to foster arts and cultural activity that encourages and enhances civic engagement and dialogue. They provide tools, templates, and sample materials for planning, implementing, and evaluating arts- and humanities-based civic engagement projects, as well as technical assistance.

The Art of Relevance

Nina Simon freely shares The Art of Relevance, a publication that explores how mission-driven organizations can matter more to more people. Ms. Simon offers examples, case studies, research-based frameworks, and practical advice on how museums can become more vital to their community.

Blue Star Families

This helpful flyer to give out at your museum provides insight into the Blue Star Museums program for military families. (PDF, 1 page)

Community Engagement Guide

Created as a guide for municipal governments and communities, this guide from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council provides insights into how to go about developing a community engagement program. (PDF, 39 pages)

Culture Connects All: Rethinking Audiences in Times of Demographic Change

Partners for Livable Communities provides a report on how cultural institutions, like museums, can connect and engage with changing demographics, specifically growing older adult and immigrant populations.

Knowledge Center

The Wallace Foundation provides this helpful set of reports, videos, tools, infographics, and other material about building audiences for the arts. The resources are arts-focused but the lessons can be applied to museums of all types and sizes.

Oklahoma Museum Network

Each partner museum in the Oklahoma Museum Network features science exhibits that rotate twice a year, providing unique learning opportunities and new experiences.

Making History Matter: Toolkit for Communicators

This toolkit, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provides evidence-based strategies for reframing history, developed and tested by the FrameWorks Institute in partnership with the American Association for State and Local History, the National Council on Public History, and the Organization of American Historians. The toolkit includes common communication traps, how to keep conversations on track, sample communications, and answers to communicators’ most common questions about strategic framing.

Nonprofits, Voting & Elections: An Online Guide to Partisan Voter Participation Activities for 501 (c)(3) Organizations

Nonprofit Vote shares a guide that describes the range of appropriate and legal activities that nonprofits can conduct. In addition to covering nonpartisan voter participation and education activities, it details easy ways to engage all members of your community–from clients and constituents to staff, board members, and volunteers.

The Participatory Museum

Nina Simon freely shares The Participatory Museum, a publication that explores how museums can experiment with programming and education to engage and interact with audiences.

Tools and Approaches for Transforming Museum Experience

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s Interaction Lab developed this toolkit following a series of workshops with 15 museum professionals doing groundbreaking work across visitor experience-related roles. The toolkit contains ideas about why transforming museum experience is necessary. It includes a set of questions to help leaders move toward designing transformative museum experiences using tools and approaches from multiple areas of practice.

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