This course proposes that museum administration and leadership matter, regardless the size or focus of your organizatioTree thumbnailn. Topics include governance and administrative structure, nonprofit status, mission and vision, board and staff responsibilities, the relationship between board and staff, strategic planning, human resource management, and leadership.

Course Overview:  During the eight weeks of this course, modules addressing governance and administrative structures, nonprofit status and the public trust, mission and vision, the relationship between board and staff, including their roles and responsibilities; strategic planning, human resource development and management, and leadership will be covered.  The course includes a combination of topical reading assignments and related weekly assignments and online and telephone chats held at 7:30 pm eastern each Tuesday of the course.  A course assignment is due the last week of class.

Sample Curriculum

Week 1:  Course overview; an inside look at nonprofits, public trust and governance

Week 2:  All About Museum Boards

Week 3:  The Importance of Museum Vision and Mission

Week 4:  Administrative and Management Responsibilities

Week 5:  Human Resource Management

Week 6:  Why Leadership Matters

Week 7:  Charting Your Museum’s Future

Week 8:  Putting It All Together


Texts Used

Ackerson, Leadership Matters

Genoways and Ireland, Museum Administration


At the end of this course you will understand:

  • the governance structure of most nonprofit museums;
  • the importance of museum mission, vision, change, and strategic planning;
  • the major roles and responsibilities of the board and staff;
  • how to create a more effective board through assessment and education;
  • the administrative and management duties of museum directors;
  • the key issues in human resource management;
  • why leadership matters and what is the most effective leadership approach; and
  • where the museum field is heading in the future.

Who should attend:  Successful participants will be individuals in institutional leadership positions at both the staff, board and volunteer levels, who have significant decision-making responsibilities and who have the ability to affect positive, substantive change within their organizations.  This course is not appropriate for student or interns.

Take a look at this blog post by a Leadership and Administration student: Leadership Matters At Every Level.

Instructor:  In a career spanning three decades, Anne Ackerson served as director of several historic house museums and historical societies in central and eastern New York, the director of the Museum Association of New York, and now currently serves as the executive director of the national Council of State Archivists.

In 1997 Anne began an independent consulting practice focusing on organizational development issues for the smaller nonprofit cultural institution.  In this capacity, she has worked with a wide variety of cultural and heritage organizations ranging from museums to arts councils to orchestras and community theatres.  Among the range of projects with which Anne has been involved include building a board recruitment process, assisting with executive search, evaluating membership and fundraising programs, and strategic planning.

Anne is a frequent workshop presenter and author, focusing on issues of board and organizational development, governance issues, and planning.  She writes regularly about management and leadership issues for cultural institutions in her blog, Leading by Design (  She is a regular workshop/webinar presenter on issues of museum ethics, executive leadership, financial management, and board roles and responsibilities.  She developed curriculum materials and a webinar on strategic planning for the American Association of State and Local History’s StEPS program, a national standards program for history museums.

Her article about the status of heritage organizations in New York State,  “The History Museum in New York State:  A Growing Sector Built on Scarcity Thinking” was published in the Summer 2011 issue of the journal, Public Historian. She is the co-author of a new book on history museum leadership for the 21st century titled Leadership Matters, which is published by AltaMira Press as part of the American Association for State and Local History series.

Small Museum Pro: Successful completion of this course will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro certificate from AASLH.