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Museum Assessment Program

The Museum Assessment Program or MAP is a self-assessment and peer-review program that helps museums set priorities and goals for meeting museum standards. It is a program of the American Association of Museums, the largest professional organization for museums in the United States.

MAP begins with an intense self-study process, compiling information from many different museum staff and departments. A peer reviewer will conduct a site visit and provide a detailed report, including advice on prioritizing projects and goals.

If you participate through the annual deadline process, fees are based on your annual budget. The MAP program is free for museums with a budget of less than $125,000. The following fee structure applies:


$125,001 - $400,000 / $350

$400,001 - $1 million / $550

More than $1 million / $750

*Additional costs may include travel expenses for your reviewer if they exceed the $950 allowed through the MAP program. Funding to help defray costs is available through a grant program administered by IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services).

AAM offers four types or concentrations for the MAP program:

Organizational/Institutional Assessment looks at your museumís overall operations, including governance, administration, finance, collections stewardship, interpretation and presentation, marketing, membership and community support, according to AAM.

Collections Stewardship/Collections Management Assessment focuses on your collection. The reviewer will examine your collections storage conditions, procedures for acquisitions, deaccessioning and record keeping.

Community Engagement/Public Dimension Assessment helps participants understand their relationship with the community, audience development, public perception, and public programming.

Leadership/Governance Assessment focuses on the boardís role in the museumís operation. Topics addressed include board recruitment and retention, managing resources, strategic planning, and improved communication between the board and staff.

All of the MAP types require a significant time commitment to complete the detailed self-study assessment materials. The program is well worth your time, but you should only apply if you have the resources to devote to it.

Museums interested in the MAP program apply to participate in the fall. If you are accepted into the program, you will receive notification in November or December. Over the winter staff completes the self-assessment study, which is due in March or April. Your peer reviewer will visit your site in the spring, and 2-3 months afterward you will receive the reviewerís report.

AAM suggests that you use the information provided in your MAP report to set goals and priorities for improving specific areas of your museum. One year after your participation, you will receive a goal evaluation form.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Kim Kenney. All rights reserved.
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