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Trustee Resource Center

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Trustee Resource Center

Good governance is essential to the work of museum trustees and directors, providing the very foundation for the museum’s success. Together the board and the director set the direction of the museum, obtain and manage the resources needed for it to fulfill its mission, and ensure that the museum effectively serving its community. Museum boards and trustees are the connective tissue that link the museum and its mission to the community it serves. AAM’s Strategic Plan calls for strengthening those connections by engaging museum boards and helping museum directors build and maintain the highest standards of good governance.

The following are resources and tools that trustees can use to inform their work in museums and that museum leaders can use as a starting point for deepening the engagement of their boards. As a part of the Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion initiative, this space will be continuously updated as new resources become available.


Start Here

Cover Image of the Museum Board Leadership Report 2017Leading with Intent – A National Report on Museum Board Leadership

This Museum Board Leadership 2017 Report, commissioned by AAM, grades boards on a wide variety of policies, practices, and performance. The survey was conducted in partnership with BoardSource and Northern Trust.







Facing Change Report Cover: A man looks into they eyes of a woman facing him with the text, "Facing Change" between them

DEAI Working Group Full Report

In spring 2017, following its strategic plan, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) convened the Working Group on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI). Twenty museum professionals, representing a variety of disciplines, organizational sizes and types, and perspectives, came together monthly at the Alliance’s offices in Arlington, Virginia, and once at the 2017 AAM Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. For six months, this group examined the characteristics of effective museum inclusion practices and considered what steps the field could take to promote DEAI.




Title page for Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture Report Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture

Throughout the social sector, there remains a glaring omission of a fundamental element of social impact: race equity. Race equity must be centered as a core goal of social impact across the sector in order to achieve our true potential and fulfill our organizational missions. The goal of this publication was to identify the personal beliefs and behaviors, cultural characteristics, operational tactics, and administrative practices that accelerate measurable progress as organizations move through distinct phases toward race equity.


One important way that trustees can champion their museums is to become engaged in advocacy efforts that support their museum’s best interests. As citizen leaders, trustees play a unique role in representing the community benefits that museums provide back to the public they serve.

Cover Image: Stand for your mission reportStand for your Mission: The Power of Board Advocacy

Every nonprofit has its own unique history, culture, and mission, and, therefore, its own view regarding advocacy. But, no matter where you are on the continuum—from doing no advocacy to doing a lot—the path toward greater impact through advocacy begins with an honest conversation in the boardroom—a conversation about your museum’s mission, goals, and, most importantly, its vision for the future.

This report, in partnership with BoardSource, is a discussion guide for museum leaders to help you start that conversation.

Infographics for the Economic Impact of Museums from AlaskaMuseums as Economic Engines

Researched and prepared in partnership with Oxford Economics with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this comprehensive report quantifies the economic benefit of museums, including jobs, direct spending, and supply-chain effects. The numbers tell an indisputable story about museums as true economic engines for their communities, supporting jobs and wages that are vital to the health of their hometowns.


Graphic: Museums & Public Opinion: Exploring four key questions about what Americans think of museumsMuseums and Public Opinion

This free report explores four key questions about what Americans really think of museums. Conducted jointly by AAM and Wilkening Consulting, the study was fielded by the market research experts at Ipsos. The results overwhelmingly demonstrate the high degree to which Americans believe in and support their museums, regardless of political affiliation, geographic location, and whether they visit museums or not.

Go Deeper

Text graphic that says: Board Power, when the high desert museum suddenly lost state grant funding, current and former trustees sprang into actionIn Board Power, Dana Whitelaw discusses what happened when the High Desert Museum lost state funding and how current and former trustees sprang into action.



Get Resources and Tools

AAM’s Resource Library is a benefit of membership and contains dozens of helpful tools, example documents, and guidelines concerning professional practices and governance in museums.

A few of the resources for trustees from AAM’s Resource Library include:


Learn from the Experts

In addition to the resources and reports above from AAM, members have access to a library of online webinars that cover topics concerning museum leadership and governance.



Contact Ibrahim Shafau, DEAI Project Manager, at 202-289-9124 or email

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
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TrendsWatch 2018: Our Bright Future

Check it out! The first sections of TrendsWatch 2018 are now up on the Alliance website. This year, in honor of CFM’s 10th anniversary, I’m putting together a Scenario Edition of the report …

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