Prioritize These Remote Museum Projects During Coronavirus—Part 2

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

May 06, 2020

With coronavirus forcing the closure of museums, our work has shifted to entirely online. While the pandemic has posed numerous challenges for us personally and professionally, it also gives us an opportunity to reflect on past practices, improve our systems, and implement better strategies.

In a previous post, we reviewed first three project areas museum staff should prioritize during this time of remote work. Those areas were: digital asset cleanup, digital collections management, and digital strategy. This post will cover: future project preparation, museum management, and museum advocacy.

Future Project Preparation

Projects may be paused or delayed due to museum closures, but once things reach a new normal, many museums will be scrambling to ramp projects back up. Be ready for this transition by planning and prioritizing those future projects now.

This section provides recommendations for how to plan for future museum projects:

Museum Management

Pre-coronavirus there was never a “good time” to review policies. Well, we have time now. Being physically distanced from our museum and forced to work together in new ways creates an opportune time for us to reflect on the efficacy of current policies and improve them.

This section includes policy ideas and resources:

Museum and Professional Advocacy

Museum finances are strained now, more than usual. With stay at home orders in place many museums have let go of or furloughed their staff. The hope is that the stimulus packages will assist in rehabilitating the industry, but we can’t count on that. The first US stimulus package (passed March 27, 2020) funded less than 5% of what museums requested ($4-billion-dollars). There is still more work to do and museum advocacy will play a central role. This is also a perilous time to be employed by a museum, so I’ve included links for individual advocacy.

This section will include resources for museum and professional advocacy:

  • Strategize on how your museum can identify and articulate its value because you’re going to need it when advocating to government representatives, donors, granting agencies, and other bodies that can make a difference in your financial health.
  • Review the museum’s role in social well-being and pinpoint how it positively contributes to the local community. This is a critical area of evidence to provide to granting agencies and your local government representatives.
  • Be aware of labor resources for professional advocacy and make a list of what you can do to advocate for yourself and your job role.
  • Write letters to your representatives (Watch for an upcoming post, Museum Advocacy: How to Write a Letter to Congressional Representatives) to urge their support of government aid that can directly benefit your museum and you. 

For more information on how the coronavirus is impacting museums and find resources to help support staff who have been let go, please see these two posts on my personal blog: COVID-19: Five Actions to Take Right Now for Archives, Museums, and Cultural Heritage Organizations and An Evaluation of the Stimulus Package and Resources for LAM Professionals.

Conclusion

This is an uncertain time and working separate from our collections is an extreme paradigm shift. However, there are still many activities we can carry out remotely in our stewardship of collections. If your supervisor, museum director, or other management official is having a hard time visualizing what your remote work entails, show them this post (and don’t forget part 1). There is plenty of important work to keep us busy.

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

Consultant, author, and blogger Rachael Cristine Woody advises on museum strategies, collections management, grant writing and the future of museums for a wide variety of clients. Read Ms. Woody’s other blog posts and check out Lucidea’s unrivaled CMS, Argus, that empowers you to pursue your digital museum vision and make it a reality.   

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