2020 Call for Proposals Topic Suggestions

Audience Research & Evaluation
  • Has your museum embraced a culture of evaluation? What innovative ways has your museum used to engage and study visitors pre- and post visit? How have you made use of technology platforms, case studies, or other modes of evaluation?
  • How can we use data to develop or improve our exhibits? How has data informed content or curatorial decisions, choices in interpretation, and exhibit design?
  • How can we look outside the museum field to find new models for evaluation?
Collections Management (or Stewardship)
  • How might changes in collections procedures or policies open the possibility for easier deaccessioning in ways that benefit the museum?
  • What has your museum done to update photography policies to embrace social media and if not, why?
  • Are there new types of collections policies that can emphasize visitor engagement with collections?
Community Engagement
  • What practices in research access, storage, lending, intellectual property policies, and data management is your museum engaged in to help foster community engagement?
  • How can museums and other cultural institutions work together at the local level to further each other’s programming? How should these collaborations be funded, and in what capacity should local government be involved?
  • Often, local audiences are the most difficult to sustain a good connection with. How can museums engage their local audience so that the local audience feels compelled to frequently visit the museum?
Culturally Specific Museums
  • How can culturally specific museums stay relevant when the communities they serve are displaced?
  • What are successful collaborative models between culturally specific and mainstream museums?
  • How do culturally specific museums advocate for their communities and introduce new narratives?
Decolonizing the Museum
  • Decolonizing is not only about objects. How can we use a decolonizing lens to reflect on all museum practices? What mistakes has your organization made that you have learned and grown from?
  • How does your decolonizing work fit within larger decolonizing efforts field-wide?
  • How do museum studies programs teach and prepare students for decolonizing the Museum?
  • What are the best practices related to repatriation as part of the decolonizing museums?
Disaster Preparedness
  • How is your museum moving beyond the basics to prepare for the full range of disaster response such as: self-care, facilities, finance, collections, cybersecurity threats, etc.?
  • Has your small institution developed an emergency response plan that includes collections as well as people? How does climate change affect such policies and practices?
Environmental Sustainability
  • How are museums successfully implementing more sustainable practices across the institution?
  • With interests and demographic shifts occurring at a rate of change like never-before, how long should an exhibit expect to last? Should individual components of a larger exhibit be changed frequently to freshen a timeless topic, or should the entire exhibitions change with the ebb and flow of a changing world? Trends in the long-term development of exhibitions should be explored here.
  • Does a non-hierarchical approach to exhibition development (cross-discipline collaboration, multiple departments, community input) impact accessibility to diverse audiences?
  • How can/should exhibitions respond to current events, politics, climate change, and other potentially difficult or divisive topics? What is the role of museums in shaping conversations around these concepts? How can exhibitions empower visitors to take action in their communities?
Expanding Ideas of Interpretation and Accessibility
  • If we think more broadly about making exhibit content accessible to diverse audiences, how might that change the way we approach interpretive media?
  • What engaging and compelling experiences does your museum offer online visitors? If designed to be stand-alone experiences, how have you made these the most effective?
Financial Sustainability
  • What do sustainable business models look like as philanthropy and consumers change?
  • How are you successfully leveraging your museum’s assets to attract corporate sponsorship and support for your museum’s programs and events? How has your organization grown its portfolio of revenue streams?
For-Profit Museums
  • The rise of pop-up commercial museums that privilege the visitor experience over education, exhibitions and collections, and what this means to the traditional nonprofit museum. Also, different governance models for traditional museums that include a for-profit structure – does it matter to the visitor and is it worthwhile to pursue?
Inclusive Practices in Action
  • How do your museum’s inclusive practices fit within larger DEAI efforts field-wide?
  • How is your museum a voice to new audiences to make them feel welcomed at that museum?
Intersectional Inclusion through Queer Exhibitions and Museums
  • What programs do you know that have been successful in implementing broadly intersectional narratives?
LGBTQIA + Inclusion beyond the L and the G
  • How does your museum include staff, visitors, and volunteers from communities often left out of LGBTQIA+ initiatives and narratives?
  • What practical guides and tools are available for starting this work?
Museums as a Place of Dialogue, Activism, and Social Justice
  • Can museums play a role in buffering the effects of a deteriorating democracy? How can museums become a beacon for defending democratic values and championing civic knowledge? What can museums do to empower the communities they serve and to enhance civic action?
  • When has your museum’s mission incorporated social justice and/or action? Concrete examples from institutions about programs/decisions that engage this and how they came to do those programs/make those decisions (for example: registering people to vote during an exhibition about the founding fathers, hosting an art-driven event or program that also includes tabling by local service organizations, a museum education department providing credit recovery workshops and fast track GED programs)
  • What are best practices for curators to engage in social justice work with museum communities? Lessons learned?
  • What steps are needed to protect artist’s rights in deaccession?
  • Can deaccessioning be an act of museum activism?
  • How can museums act as safe places during times of crisis and/or tragedy?
Museum Studies or Museum Professional Training
  • How are museum studies programs and the field collaborating in the creation of a more equitable system?
  • How can the field build a network of collaboration between museums and museum studies programs beyond the internship (existing examples and future opportunities)?
Perception and Evolution of the American Story
  • How can cultural institutions regain the national spotlight? How can cultural institutions be places where un-filtered stories are told, so that visitors can fully understand the gravity of past and current events of the American story? Can a cultural institution actively solicit change, or should they be a thought leader and provide a reference for others to lead the way as the American story evolves?
Planning for Advancement
  • What makes up the basic tool kit for museums of any size to build a successful fundraising effort? How can museums of any size implement a successful fundraising campaign effort?
  • What trends are informing museums’ development plans?
  • What case studies or examples demonstrate that achieving endowment growth has supported expansion and/or greater mission outcomes?
Reshaping the Board & Trustees
  • What concrete steps has your museum or board taken to put diversity, equity, accessibility, or inclusion initiatives into action?
  • What tangible approaches has your museum applied to getting reluctant boards (and funders) to support DEAI programming that shines a light on privilege?
  • How can you connect staff members who normally have no contact with the board to the board’s workings? How can you provide board members with a fuller picture of your staff and their contributions?
Satellite Museums
  • Does your museum have a satellite site/branch? Is your satellite site a temporary space? How/does your institution remain engaged with the satellite community at the end of your physical presence in this space?
  • How does your satellite site engage with established organizations in your new location? How do you build partnerships that allow you to expand and contribute to this community?
Teens in Museums
  • How has your museum created opportunities for teens that go beyond a single program and lead to lifelong engagement and mentorship?
  • How do we foster teens’ growth as lifelong learners of the arts?
  • What methods does your museum employ that prove that museums can become places where students learn about traditional topics in a different way?
The Workplace in Transition
  • How is your museum engaging in succession planning? How are you preparing your staff for successful management and leadership roles?
  • In an era of shrinking resources, how are museums innovating to provide the necessary human resources to fulfill their mission now and into the future?
  • Can consultants serve as catalysts for developing new practices in museums?
Traveling Exhibits
  • How can traveling exhibitions create revenue, drive attendance, and increase awareness of a Museum?
  • Are there unique community partners that could help showcase a traveling exhibit? Share your tips and lessons learned
  • What tips can you provide on borrowing exhibitions from international museums or from the international community?
Visitor Engagement
  • What are the necessary elements for a successful audience engagement strategy? How do you define metrics of success in engagement?
  • How can museums best develop a continuous relationship with visitors to convert them to lifelong donors?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities in inviting visitor/community engagement in the curatorial or exhibition process?
Visitor Experiences
  • How are you creating and designing your visitor experiences? Whether it’s an interactive experience, using digital technologies, engaging through social media, or designing welcoming and inclusive experiences; share your lessons learned, best practices, and tips.
  • How are you designing welcoming and inclusive experiences? Have you developed best practices regarding sensory friendly work?
  • How are you extending the experience via the museum store?
  • Have you developed innovative and successful programs to engage millennial audiences, families with young children, evening events, theatrical programming, or immersive experiences?
Visitor Services
  • What practices in research access, storage, lending, intellectual property policies, and data management is your museum engaged in to help foster community engagement?
Volunteer Management & Training
  • What are the protocols and routines for achieving a healthy relationship between an organization and its volunteers? And vice, versa?
  • How can museums effectively recruit volunteers from evolving demographics, and which methods of retainment prove to be the most successful for each group?
  • Does your museum utilize volunteers in collection management? How do volunteers thrive in the complex ecosystem of collections management?
  • How can we best structure trainings to support inclusive work environments and visitorship?
  • What are best practices in docent and educator training (how can it be used to reshape a docent program or support new education experiences)?