If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!

Are you interested in creating, rejuvenating or revitalizing a museum? If so, you’ll need a strategic plan, a team, and lots of patience. Below, you’ll find recommendations on how to approach the planning process for a museum.

What is Strategic Planning?

A strategic plan is a roadmap that delineates how an organization will plan for people, collections and construction—this includes, but is not limited to, an assessment of the site’s visitors, a study of the market’s trends, and the creation of the institution’s operational, collections and programming policies and procedures. Most importantly, an effective strategic plan will include benchmarks on which an institution can measure its success.

Creating a Timeline

A timeline dictates how a team will approach, outline and implement its strategic plan. While the timeframe for developing a strategic plan differs from institution to institution, all museums must create a timeline that results in the production of a document at the end of each phase. An effective timeline will:

  • Develop a plan for planning;
  • Clearly articulate the organization’s mission, vision and values;
  • Gather information about the project;
  • Identify priorities;
  • Create a strategic plan;
  • Implement the plan; and
  • Evaluate the plan.


Identifying an effective manager is key when planning for the future of a museum. Your leader must be:

  • Accessible;
  • An effective communicator;
  • Able to share knowledge with the team;
  • Able to make decisions easily; and
  • Able to discern when an action is needed.

Good luck with planning! And remember, a strategic plan is at the core of a successful museum!!!


Allison, Michael, and Jude Kaye. Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations: A Practical Guide and Workbook. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005

George, Gerald, and Cindy Sherrell-Leo. Starting Right: A Basic Guide to Museum Planning. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1986.

Lord, Gail Dexter, and Barry Lord, eds. The Manual of Museum Planning. London: HMSO, 1991.

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