Some professional advice | AspenTimes.com

Some professional advice

Dear Editor:In January 2001, the Aspen Historical Society participated in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) conducted by the American Association of Museums. Specifically, the Aspen Historical Society participated in a MAP III Public Dimension Assessment. The MAP III Public Dimension Assessment looks at how the public perceives a museum, and the experience the public has when it comes into contact with that museum. The MAP process is a vigorous one including a self-evaluation, a site visit by two museum professionals, and a written report evaluating the institution’s public perception with suggestions on how that perception can be improved. Throughout the process the peer reviewers assess all aspects of the museum’s operations that impact on the public experience including governance, budgets, staff, collections, programs (both public and school), and the physical structure(s) of the museum. I was joined by Mary Allman of the Littleton (Colorado) Historical Museum as the second peer reviewer. Ms. Allman subsequently went on to become the director of the Kansas State Historical Society.Those of us who regularly perform MAP assessments around the country become very familiar with the institutions we evaluate. It is critical we remain objective while at the same time we follow with interest the successes and failures of the institutions, always wishing them the best.[Recently] an article about your historical society appeared in The Aspen Times, and was brought to my attention by another colleague in the Washington, D.C., area. I decided to contact the new director, Georgia Hanson, for more details.As a museum professional with 35 years of experience in the field, I would like to congratulate the society for taking steps toward a long and stable future. Our report four years ago encouraged the AHS staff and the previous board of trustees to work toward a steady income flow including securing public funding. It is important to move away from a situation where contributed income is the primary source for the institution’s cash flow. The standard formula of one-third contributions, one-third earned income, and one-third public funds is an important goal for museums to seek and achieve.I am pleased to see the proposal before the community, and support this important step toward your historical society’s enduring future as it continues to collect, preserve and interpret the rich history of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley.Donald P. ZurisHead curator, Corpus Christi Museum of Science and HistoryCorpus Christi, Texas

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