Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide (American Association for State and Local History)

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9781442275690: Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide (American Association for State and Local History)


In this how-to guide, practitioners at cultural heritage venues share their experiences in building sustainable relationships with their geographic and demographic communities. The volume includes practical discussions of activity types that museums can employ to build relationships with their communities including education, advocacy, co-creative, while serving as a community asset and resource. Case studies include direct application of successes and lessons learned with an emphasis on small to medium sized institutions with limited staff and budgets.

Highlights include:

  • Thematic discussions on topics such as building an advocacy network between the museum and community; developing cultural heritage institutions as critical and essential components of educational systems; museum response to community expressed needs through a co-creative approach; the varied means for developing community members as cultural heritage stakeholders; and positioning the cultural heritage institution as an integral community asset.
  • Twenty case studies directly apply the thematic discussions in small to medium-sized museum contexts.
  • Extensive list of resources including digital links to forms, workbooks, and guides produced in the case studies.
  • A list of national organizations and an extensive bibliography on community museum engagement.

Specifically addressed to smaller institutions with limited budgets and limited or no full-time staff, the volume includes cost-effective projects that can be completed for $1,500 or less.

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About the Author:

Robert Connolly is active in the museum field as an independent consultant and President of the Advocates for the Poverty Point World Heritage Site. He has over 25 years of experience in museums and community engagement most recently as an Associate Professor in the Museum Studies program at the University of Memphis and the Director of the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa. His PhD is from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996.

Elizabeth A. Bollwerk is currently an Archaeological Analyst for the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS, www.daacs.org) at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation based at Monticello. She received her PhD from the University of Virginia in 2012.

Review:

Happily, this volume is not yet one more call for museums to engage with the communities they serve –as its editors note, that would be nothing new. Rather, the book is a “how-to” guide, illustrated with case studies drawn from a wide variety of contexts, and including a digital resource guide (linked to ancillary online content) compiled by the book’s contributors. This volume demonstrates how reciprocal, mutually empowered community engagement is a profoundly co-creative process which benefits both communities and the museums which serve them. (Carol McDavid, Executive Director, Community Archaeology Research Institute, Inc.)

Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide is a major contribution to studies about community engagement and participatory strategies in museums. Encompassing examples from more than two dozen contributors, the book is a valuable manual of tested and inexpensive "bottom-up" or "co-creation" approaches. This is a must-read not just for museum professionals but also for everyone in the critical museum studies field. (Helaine Silverman, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois (Urbana))

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