Let’s face it. Few of us are drawn to museum work because we want to tackle national museum standards. We love history, stories, photographs, artifacts, historic structures, and the other joys of our work. Thinking about standards can make us feel overwhelmed; a reminder of how little time there is to accomplish all that needs to be done.
Attention to museum standards is necessary, however. Standards, like those that address the “legal, ethical, and effective care of collections and historic structures,” are part of the foundation upon which museums and historic sites make decisions and earn and keep public trust.
Determining how well your organization is meeting national standards is much more manageable if you have a structure connected to that foundation, like the framework of a house. Programs like AASLH’s StEPs program are the framework that helps organizations, including all-volunteer ones, identify strengths and areas needing improvement. For organizations that have lost their direction, StEPs is a valuable tool for pulling them out of the rut they fell in years or even decades ago.
Organizations participating in the self-study StEPs program assess their policies and practices using a Basic, Good, and Better system of performance indicators. With StEPs, board members, staff, and volunteers can begin working together with enthusiasm and optimism toward meaningful goals. Bronze, Silver and Gold progress certificates show your community, funders, and others that your organization is working to meet national museum standards. And that can translate into more credibility, more support, and an organization that is a valuable asset to its community for many more years to come.
Is it time for your organization to join the 950 history organizations across the country already enrolled in StEPs? Join us on Thursday, June 7th for a free info webinar on the StEPs program.
- Participants will learn how the StEPs program is set up (Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations)
- Participants will see examples of how StEPs has helped organizations set goals and make meaningful progress
About the Presenter: Cherie Cook is AASLH Senior Program Manager. Prior to joining the Association, Cherie worked with museums in Oklahoma for more than sixteen years, first as field services coordinator and then as executive director of the Oklahoma Museums Association. Much of Cherie’s work at AASLH focuses on smaller history organizations and is influenced not only by her years in Oklahoma but also her experience as a county historical society curator.