This military adage popularized by President Eisenhower holds true for the topic of Museum Planning. When reading about the subject it is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of work that must go into the planning of a museum. The list of just the basic elements will include:
The Mission Statement
Rules and Regulations
Short- and Long-Term Goals
Insurance and Legal Concerns
…And many more sub-categories that are all major issues unto themselves.
But in the real world, what happens when unexpected problems and circumstances force you to alter your set goals? A strong foundation in the planning process can be the solution. One of the most common problems museums have is inconsistency within the museum plan. Once an initial plan is implemented and a museum gets going, the plan should not be a stagnant document. It should be the practice of a museum to review the value of the plan regularly and make sure it is being utilized as a crucial component to every day operation. An effective way to begin a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of a plan is to review the level of cross-organizational lines between separate departments. The list of elements under the topic of Museum Planning ranges across the entire spectrum of what a museum does, from security and accounting to public programming and exhibit design. Using planning to sustain the integration of all the components of a museum is essential to maintain that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Out of the planning process comes the mindset and themes that allow for a high performing efficient organization, which is more valuable and adaptable than any one plan. When evaluating museum planning, attempt to answer the question: In what ways can the planning process be used to continually have a positive effect on the actual operations of the museum?
Selected Background Readings for this Post:
Starting Right: A Basic Guide to Museum Planning – Gerald George and Cindy Sherrell-Leo
Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan -John M. Bryson and Farnum K Alston
The Manual of Museum Planning –Gail Dexter Lord and Barry Lord
Planning Our Museums – Barry Lord