The Challenge of “Value” - Engaging Communities in Why Museums Exist

How do we prove the value of museums? It’s a big question with as many possible answers as there are museums. As museums and heritage organizations across New York State argue their cases for greater integration in an increasingly stressed educational system, for attendance and volunteerism in already time-constrained leisure hours, and for funding in a challenging economic climate, the need to prove the value of a museum’s work to a host of stakeholders is more critical than ever. But what values do the state’s 1,900 museums exemplify? And who will care unless New York’s museum community compellingly conveys its impact? This white paper is the culmination of three facilitated Focus on Value conversations held during the Museum Association of New York and Museumwise 2011 New York State Museums in Conversation Conference. These conversations were meant to highlight the critical importance of measuring the public impact of museums and heritage organizations and articulating it to a broad spectrum of stakeholders from the boardroom to the living room. About 80 conference attendees participated in one or more of the sessions – for many, the ‘value proposition’ was a familiar topic; for many others, it was a new and perhaps daunting way of thinking about their institutions. Download The Challenge of “Value” Engaging Communities in Why Museums Exist (Acrobat/Adobe PDF format, 2.9MB Click here to get Adobe Reader)