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Institutional Planning

Institutional planning produces a mutually agreed upon vision of where the museum is going and what it wants to achieve. It ensures this vision meets the needs of its audiences and community and that the museum identifies how it will obtain the resources to fulfill this vision. Planning allows the museum to make sound decisions in response to changes in its operating environment. The Alliance has compiled this set of institutional planning resources from amongst its own offerings as well as those throughout the nonprofit and museum sector.

Alliance Resources

AAM’s Strategic Plan

The Alliance shares it’s most recent strategic plan and planning process.

Mastering Your Museum’s Core Documents Toolkit

This toolkit offers guidance on the needed resources to successfully revise or draft your museum’s core documents. With it comes a combination of tools, guidelines, and action plans to help you understand the importance of—and required elements for—each of the five documents required for Core Documents Verification.

Mission and Institutional Planning Standards

The Alliance uses the term institutional planning to emphasize a process and document that guide the acquisition, growth, and allocation of resources for the overall institution. It may also be called strategic planning or long-range planning. An institutional plan is frequently supplemented by separate implementation or operating plans that are the means of implementing the decisions made in the strategic plan. Implementation plans address day-to-day operations or one specific operational area, such as collections, conservation, or education.

Sample Documents

Tier 3 museum members can access a number of sample institutional plans.

Tomorrow in the Golden State: Museums and the Future of California

The Alliance’s Center for the Future of Museums’ Tomorrow in the Golden State builds on a session “Forecasting the Future of California Museums,” held at the 2010 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo. The guide presents a quick overview of future studies and forecasting, provides agendas, potential invite lists and notes on logistics to help plan a forecasting session, and shares insight about using the results of the forecasting session to encourage community action and support institutional planning.

TrendsWatch: The Future of Financial Sustainability (2020)

The Alliance’s 2020 forecasting report provides a framework for examining any museum’s financial performance and thinking about long-term strategies for financial success.

TrendsWatch: Navigating a Disrupted Future

In 2021, museums face rapid, transformative shifts on all fronts. In response, this edition of TrendsWatch focuses on issues museums must attend to right now, to minimize harm to their communities and ensure their own survival.

When Less is More

This Museum magazine article explains that staff reduction and shrinking budgets can lead to many museums prioritizing and focusing on doing good work, clarifying the impact they want to achieve in communities, and focusing on quality and relevance.

Read additional articles related to mission & institutional planning.

Other Resources

Cleveland Museum of Art Strategic Plan

The Cleveland Museum of Art developed this Strategic Plan titled: A Strategic Framework for Our Second Century in 2017.

Mayborn Museum Complex Strategic Plan

The Mayborn Museum at Baylor University developed A 2020 Vision- Mayborn Museum Strategic Plan in 2019.

AAM Member-Only Content

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  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
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