While trying to research and discover a large non-profit museum that had a natural history collection, I thought of the movie series “Night At the Museum” starring Ben Stiller along with the book series that the movies were based off of. I don’t know why I thought about movie for this assignment but I guess I felt nostalgic for one of my favorite childhood movies. I guess the reason why I thought about the movies was because the movies based a fictional story of an actual non-profit natural history museum in New York City. So, as you can see – I decided to dive into the governance structure of the American Museum of Natural History for this assignment. Sadly, I never been to the American Museum of Natural History let alone actually visiting New York in general. However, the nostalgia of the movies gave me the motivation to actually look at the real American Museum of Natural History’s website and see what they’re all about.

When I found the American Museum of Natural History about page of their website, the first thing that is posted is the Mission Statement along with the time line of the history of the museum. To be honest, I was impressed of the layout of the Mission’s page especially with explaining the history of the museum. I thought, for this assignment, to share what the American Museum of Natural History’s Mission Statement:
“To discover, interpret, and disseminate—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.”
It then dives deeper about how the museum helped established the Richard Gilder Graduate School for PH.D programs for comparative biology within the museum back in 2006 along with the museum starting to grant a Masters of Arts program for teaching in 2015. I thought it was worth noting that because, as a student who is interested in education and museums, I thought it was interesting and something I could note to myself about seeing other programs like this in the future if I’m still interest.

On the side of the Mission Statement page, there’s a tab for more information of the museum like the Board of Trustees, Conflict of Interest Policy, Cultural Resources Office, along with statements for social policies and history of the museum. One of the information pages I was looking for was the Governance Policy to understand what the government structure of the Museum. From what I gather of the policy of the governance are these following key principles:
Mission and Goals: The Museum is committed to fulfilling its mission of discovering, interpreting, and disseminating knowledge about the natural world. The Board of Trustees sets the Museum’s strategic direction and ensures that its programs and initiatives are aligned with its mission and goals.

1) Board of Trustees: The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the Museum and is responsible for overseeing its operations. The Board sets policies, approves the Museum’s budget, and appoints the President and CEO.

2) President and CEO: The President and CEO is the Chief Executive Officer of the Museum and is responsible for its day-to-day operations. The CEO works closely with the Board of Trustees and the staff to develop and implement strategies and programs that support the Museum’s mission and goals.

3) Staff: The staff of the Museum includes experts in various fields and works together to carry out its programs and initiatives. The staff is supervised by the CEO and the senior management team, and they report to the Board of Trustees through the CEO.

5) Financial Management: The Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the financial management of the Museum, including its budget and investments. The Museum operates on a non-profit basis and is committed to using its resources efficiently and effectively to support its mission.

6) Transparency and Ethics: The Museum is committed to transparent and ethical operations and is subject to relevant laws and regulations. The Board of Trustees and the CEO are responsible for ensuring that the Museum operates in a responsible and ethical manner.

In summary, the governance policy of the American Museum of Natural History outlines the roles and responsibilities of its Board of Trustees, President and CEO, and staff in managing and operating the Museum. It ensures that the Museum operates in a transparent and ethical manner and is committed to fulfilling its mission and goals.

I enjoyed understanding and visiting the American Museum of Natural History’s website and their policies and so my question for you all is this: What is the main theme of a governance structure do you look for in a museum? Like is it the mission statement, the programs they’re involved, or the people that help run the museum?

American Museum of Natural History – New York City

6 Thoughts to “Museum Governance – The American Museum of Natural History”

  1. Amy Gauger

    I actually thought of Night at the Museum as soon as this class started, lol. This is a really good question: I think one of the first things we see as soon as we enter a museum is the mission statement. Maybe we look past it as we pay and head into the museum, but it’s usually right there, front and center. What I’ve been looking at recently is not only their mission statement, but their vision statement. I want to know where the museum is going in the future as well as where they are right now!

  2. MoHagani Magnetek

    For me, I would say I’m always looking at the people involved first and maybe that’s because what is easy to see on the surface without going to a website and looking up the about page for any information regarding their organizational structure i.e. their mission statement. If I had to say what I look for next then I would say its the programs the museum offers.

  3. Arianna Wyanski

    I think that many parts of the governance structure is important, but I also think that the people who have the most power in their governance structures. Do they actually know what they are doing? Do they have the right skill set to be in the position that they are in? Can they be trusted to put the museum over their own personal needs?

  4. Maxine Laberge

    When I look at museums I think I start with the mission statement. However, after starting this class and learning more about museums I wonder how much the mission statement really tells us. I think it is a very brief introduction to what the museum is all about. I remember in one of the videos Pat Druckenmiller, the Director at UAMN says something along the lines of…”we have a mission statement but it has really become a mission paragraph.” When I was researching the US Holocaust Museum I noticed that the mission statement was quickly followed with several paragraphs about the work at the museum. I think that complemented the mission nicely and tied it into the bigger picture.

  5. Avatar photoSavanna VonScheele

    First off I like you how you incorporated a movie for this module. I enjoy watching the movie series as I always found them interesting and funny. Secondly you make me wish I had written about the movie Zoo Keeper and which museum they used as an influence! Thirdly I like how seamless your discussion is! The flow and how you were just able to transition and explain this museums outlined governance.

  6. Avatar photoSavanna VonScheele

    I forgot to respond to your question, I normally look at the mission statement and who they are run by. it all should represent how the museum envisions itself and how it proceeds.

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