Leadership Matters: Leading Museums in an Age of Discord (Second Edition)
History museums continue to evolve from places of white male nostalgia to spaces that share our country’s complicated and diverse narratives in an effort to create a more perfect union. As the stories told at history museums expand beyond a single narrative, so must the leadership. Today’s leader must be able to create and run organizations that are nimble enough to reflect and respond to the needs of their community. They must be able to create environments that welcome difficult dialogues at all levels and see them as opportunities not problems. They must understand the power of history and how it can be used to educate, engage, and empower their audiences.
In Leadership Matters, revised edition, authors Anne W. Ackerson and Joan H. Baldwin continue their theme of effective leadership by focusing on four types of leadership: self-aware, authentic, courageous, and visionary through the experiences of 36 history museum leaders. Incorporating the journeys of nine new leader-interviewees, this edition reflects the challenges faced by museums to become and remain relevant to their audiences. From Frank Vagnone’s efforts to revive historic house museums to the social justice work of LaTanya Autry, these leaders not only embody the four characteristics but serve as champions for relevancy, collaboration, and revolutionary rethinking of the role history museums can play in the community.
The importance of relevancy is on the minds of many history museum leaders. Hallie Winter of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum expresses her desire for people to understand that “small Native museums matter,” and “Native voices are not voices of the past.” Lisa Lee of the National Public Housing Museum, echoes this sentiment by stating that working with those who have been excluded is the path towards relevancy. Her activist roots prompt her to exclaim, “I wanted the museum to be as real as a march.”
Now more than ever, success as a museum leader doesn’t necessarily come with longevity, scholarship or curatorial achievement. In fact, today’s successful leaders often bring myriad skills to the table, creating a style that works both personally and professionally. This snapshot of museum leadership focuses in particular on history and cultural heritage organizations to help readers understand the power of individual leadership and its relationship to organizational strength.
This book features:
• 36 interviews–nine of them new to the second edition– with leaders in the field from a range of positions and institutions
• 10 myths of museum leadership and why they’re wrong
• 10 simple truths of museum leadership
• A leadership “agenda” with criteria and goals for individual and organizational development