We learned in our discussion last week that a museum’s mission captures its quintessential function. Emanating from the mission we also have values and vision. Overall we came to a consensus that the mission needs constant updating in our ever-changing society. It is supposedly designed to sustain a museum institution through the hardest of times. Therefore hypothetically what happens when a large community museum experiences a chronic financial setback? It now cannot provide the great degree of services to continue its institutional progress that it had been achieving for years. Of course its interested stakeholders will revert to the mission to confront such a huge hurdle, but how useful is it now with diminished resources? The administration seems forced now to cut vital programs and staff that serve the museum’s far-reaching mission, values, and vision. They will make serious reassessments with these new limitations, but are they obligated to downsize the expansive ambitions inherent in the mission? What has to be sacrificed? First, I believe the solution would be a strategic plan formed by the stakeholders and staff that determines a course of action to restore the museum to its former capacity in an arranged period of time. Though the mission should not remain the same because the museum has lost its agency to operate on its former level. The mission should be proactively modified to regain what the institution lost, it should have new substance added to it that inspires more funding and grants, and how these allocations will be put to proper use in renewing the museum’s capabilities. How would you suggest handling and resolving this situation?
Sources: The Importance of Mission in Guiding Museum Practice, Edited by Joan H. Baldwin and Anne W. Ackerson, (Troy, New York: Museum Association of New York, 2003)
American Association of Museums, National Standards & Best Practices for U.S. Museums, (Washington, D.C.:American Association of Museums, 2008)