Museums and arts institutions are often challenged to secure the resources necessary to pursue new initiatives. Despite being anchor institutions and employers in many of their communities, museums have experienced both long-term budget shortfalls and temporary budget slashes. Even without the effects of unprecedented events like the COVID-19 pandemic, scarcity of funding and staffing forces most museums to do a lot of work with few resources. These obstacles may be threatening to prevent your institution from executing its vision. Many museums turn to a museum consulting firm in order to surmount obstacles like these.
A museum consulting firm provides expertise and support when arts institutions initiate new projects. There are many reasons to consider working with a museum consulting firm over hiring new internal talent or foregoing a new museum project entirely.
What are the Advantages of Hiring a Museum Consulting Firm?
Directors and staff at arts and cultural heritage institutions are subject matter experts. They are well-versed in—and committed to—the history, objects, and art forms that are their organization’s mission. A museum’s staff has deep knowledge about the items their museum contains, and the history associated with these items.
Furthermore, current trends in educational programs demand that Museum Studies students specialize in increasingly specific content areas. As a result, staff members who are both subject matter experts and effective project managers, curation advisers, and systems management experts are hard to come by. A museum consulting firm can provide the skills and knowledge required through a team of multiple experts to effectively initiate a new project and see it through to completion.
Museum directors and staff know when it’s time to undertake new projects at their institutions. They are experts at knowing when things require improvement and attention. Making these improvements may require large-scale initiatives, like moving collections, updating collections management systems, or improving the accessibility of an institution’s collections. But knowing and executing every single technical step to achieve these goals typically falls outside the scope of a museum director’s set of skills and responsibilities.
There are also obstacles for hiring these positions internally. Most museums already face a scarcity of financial resources, so creating a new position may be impossible. Furthermore, it is unlikely that any single employee in any position could offer the range of skills and knowledge needed to initiate and complete projects of this kind.
There are other advantages to hiring someone outside of your organization for these projects, too. Fresh perspectives may lead to innovative ideas. They can also help your organization avoid problems that arise when staff is overextended by the need to continue managing ongoing non-project work. Hiring a team of experts who know what it requires to execute your museum’s vision is smart, efficient, and frees museum directors and staff up to do the work that falls within their typical job parameters.
What Services Does A Museum Consulting Firm Offer?
Not all museum consulting firms are the same. The composition of the staff and the methodology for project execution can vary from organization to organization. However, there are some typical competencies and capabilities you will find within the best industry firms.
To pull from our own experience, HAI creates a tailored approach to your project as a collaborative partner. Our museum experts remain your partners throughout the process. We listen to your staff and learn what your museum hopes to accomplish, we then develop a plan to make it happen.
We go well beyond out-of-the-box offerings and can customize all aspects of the project to meet your institution’s needs. Our museum consulting teams possess unique and varied skillsets within the following focus areas:
HAI can team up with you at any point in your process. Often, organizations discover midway through a project that they need outside expert help. Or, perhaps your museum would benefit from expert consultation as you begin envisioning your project. We are ready to jump in at any point, assess your needs, and work alongside you and your staff to improve your institution in a variety of ways. No matter where you are in the process, or how much experience you have with the type of project you are undertaking, HAI is glad to step in and act as a guide and collaborator.
The staff at HAI is knowledgeable, well-credentialed, and experienced. Our staff members have degrees in Museum Studies, Library and Information Science, History, and other related fields. Many have been in the field for five years or more—they have the degrees and hands-on experience across many different institutions. Our varied expertise enables us to create a powerful team with insight into the on-the-ground realities involved with large-scale museum initiatives. Like your staff, we are a team of subject matter experts whose expertise can be mobilized to improve cultural heritage institutions. HAI also has extensive experience in executing projects for institutions both large and small, from local museums to state and federal institutions. Regardless of your museum’s size and resources, we can work with you to execute your vision.
Our team can enter into a partnership on your project at any point. We work to understand your needs, and then we assign you a team whose mission is to manage your initiative. We have existing partnerships in multiple industries with individuals and companies we have vetted. This allows us to bring in additional experts in a variety of fields who can help execute aspects of your project. We build these teams to help you accomplish exactly what your organization envisions and decides. HAI can manage your institution’s project so that you can remain focused on your mission.
Because HAI has extensive experience with museum projects and initiatives, we know what specific services are required to make these projects successful. Some of the services we offer include:
- content master planning
- content development for museum exhibit text
- media licensing and acquisition
- collections management services
- collections systems assessment
- curatorial services
We can offer the specific services that your institution requires, and consult with you to determine what your project scope should include. HAI can structure your project as a limited-term initiative, or provide ongoing consulting. No matter what, your project will be built in the way that best meets your needs, most efficiently utilizes your resources, and best facilitates the completion of your initiative.
HAI partners with you as your institution changes, adapts to new realities, and grows. Our museum experts have worked with many museums to execute a variety of both large- and smaller-scale projects. As a result, we know how to successfully advise and support clients. Our industry know-how and access to other experts in the field make HAI excellent collaborators for you and your staff as your project is ongoing. Importantly, when our team of History Associates Inc. museum experts joins your team, you and your staff can remain focused on your mission.