Most organizations are interested in measuring their success. For museums this means measuring success against mission, priorities and resources. The hardest part of this task is deciding which aspects of performance are key indicators, and then how to measure them.
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By Maxwell L. Anderson
America's largest art museums are the primary tourist attractions in many cities; in 2002 they drew some 100 million visitors, more people than attended sporting events. Museums care for billions of dollars of artworks, stage ambitious exhibitions that can define the season of even a major metropolis, and help anchor a community's pride of place. The boards of major art museums tend to be composed of each community's wealthiest and most powerful leaders. “Signature” museum architecture is sought by city planners and promoters as ardently as sports stadia, and, in many other ways, art museums are perceived to be indispensable amenities in any given urban or regional setting... Full text (347Kb).
Responses to Metrics of Success in Art Museums:
07/20/04: Response from Martin D. Terrien, Director of Finance and Operations, Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Full text (9Kb).
01/03/05: John Perreault's response, "Museum without Boards," from his ARTOPIA blog.
03/12/05: Response from John Hazeltine, Director of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Orange, CA. Full text (8Kb).
04/23/05: Response from Anne Bergeron, Director of Institutional and Capital Development, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Full text (9Kb).
08/09/05: Response from Ginny Connelly, Chair, 20th Anniversary, Docent Guild, Michael C. Carlos Museum. Full text (10Kb).
10/01/05: Response from Kenneth Hamma, Executive Director, Digital Policy Initiatives, J. Paul Getty Trust. Full text (19Kb).
By Kevin F. McCarthy, Elizabeth Heneghan Ondaatje, Arthur Brooks and Andras Szanto
The RAND Corporation abstract and download instructions
(Link takes you to publisher's website.)
By Heath Fox
Defining the Question of Art Museum Evaluation: John Dana Cotton, an early-twentieth century champion of the American museum community and founder of the Newark Museum, “...understood as early as 1920 that the public's support of a museum was, at bottom, an exchange transaction—that the public was due a measure of value in return. Museums,” he said, “had to be both useful and accountable.” One of the most important issues in postmodern museum management focuses on evaluating performance to determine, in Cotton's vernacular, both usefulness and accountability. A recent study by the RAND Corporation stated the challenge: “A central issue is...how to define and measure success. As pressures for accountability increase, museums, like other nonprofits, are increasingly being called upon to evaluate and measure their performance vis-à-vis their goals and missions.”... Full text (614Kb).
By Stephen E. Weil
Museum News, January/February 2005 article reprint.
(Link takes you to the American Association of Museum's website.)