I chose the Museum of the Rockies for this week’s discussion post. It’s a cultural and natural history museum in Bozeman, Montana, and the governance of the museum was very clear once I clicked on the “About” section of the museum’s website. The museum has a board of directors, along with several statements readily available to the public – a vision statement (“Engage. Inspire. Discover. We envision a world where all are inspired to engage in life-long learning and the process of discovery”), a mission statement (“Museum of the Rockies inspires life-long learning in science, history, culture, and art; advances knowledge through collections, research and discovery; and presents engaging, vibrant exhibits and educational opportunities. Museum of the Rockies brings the world to Montana and shares Montana with the world”), a values statement, along with financial transparency and newsletters. I found that really great – I clearly haven’t spent a ton of time looking at the behind-the-scenes running of a museum until this class! The governance structure looked very similar to what the professors have outlined in the lectures, complete with an organization chart. The chart looked slightly different than what we’ve seen in class – this org chart has separated, clickable links, yet the hierarchy is still very clear.

Here’s what the governance of the non-profit, Museum of the Rockies looks like:

  1. Board of Trustees, who work with the director of the museum to map the path of the museum moving forward and help to obtain and manage the resources of the museum.
  2. )The executive director works with the Board of Trustees, and to make sure that the museum stays accountable to the public. Along with the executive director, there’s also an executive director’s cabinet, which consists of the department directors and museum curators.
  3. The Staff, which consists of the Cultural History, Development and Membership, Education and Public Program, Exhibitions, Finance and Accounting, Marketing, Museum Store, Paleontology, and Visitor Services Departments, as well as Facility Rentals and a Planetarium!
  4. The Finance and Accounting Department is responsible for all financial aspects of the museum – not just the accounting portion, but their investments and ensuring that they stay within the legal guidelines for the museum.
  5. The Marketing Department covers not only public publications for the museum, but also works with social media, works closely with the Exhibitions and Educations Departments, and ensures that public events are scheduled that keeps the public engaged with the Museum of the Rockies.

I’ve hit on just a few of the departments here. All of the Staff is vitally important to keep a museum running, but I certainly don’t have the space here to name everyone and their jobs! I have to say though, this has been a really good lesson on the inner workings of a museum, some parts of which I’d never thought about, having never worked in a museum before. In addition, it’s relatively close to me, as I live in Salt Lake City, so I’m definitely going to have to visit this awesome museum! Below is one of the current exhibits, but there are so many that look interesting. I’m definitely visiting!

Question: If you have no experience with working in a museum, how much of the governance did you really think about as you toured a museum? And if you have experience in a museum, how much of it did you know about prior to starting work in your area?

2 Thoughts to “Governance of the Museum of the Rockies”

  1. Hannah Terwilliger

    To answer your question, even though I volunteered at the Anchorage Museum’s Imaginarium when I was in middle school and high school; I didn’t really know that much of the governance at the museum. And come to think about it, it was never really discussed about in the volunteer training I had. Probably the reason why was because this volunteer experience was mainly aimed for school aged teenagers and the education behind the exhibits we learned and presented to the public. Now I kind of wished that I learned those things back then to get the full picture of what the governance is like. Awesome post, great job!

  2. Arianna Wyanski

    As someone who has never worked in a museum, their governing structures barely even crossed my mind. In the back of my head, I knew that there had to be something, but I didn’t really know the depth that it went to until this module. I also never really thought about the fact that museums are not for profit.

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