Article Review: The Art and Science of Engagement

AAM-Magnetic-Cover-FINALAn excerpt of The Art and Science of Engagement in the September/October 2013 issue of AAM’s Museum is a crystal clear explanation of the habits of “magnetic museums”. The authors define magnetic museums as “those that have developed an energized core centered on people, vision, and service, which enables them to attract and retain critical resources, such as talented and committed employees, loyal audiences, engaged donors, powerful goodwill from the community at large, and the financial capital required to sustain programmatic excellence and growth.” The themes the authors outline will be familiar to professionals who work on board and/or staff development, or community engagement.

The authors share examples of successful organizations that:

1)   Have a shared vision of staff and board

2)   Empower others through “people first, service first” philosophy

3)   Build community partnerships to “widen the circle of engagement”

4)   Become essential. (I love this one. I often tell a story of how in Imperial County, our new museum is a non-profit in a region where the Food Bank partners with schools to provide a lunch room that accepts food stamps. It brings into stark relief that a non-profit must make an impact that compares to feeding our students.)

5)   Perform with excellence (Another great one. Someone once said “the number one thing we do at this museum is engage the visitor.” Everyone we encounter has to have an experience that makes them want to come back. Every. Time.

As soon as I saw it, I immediately wanted to print a large format copy of the diagram of 360 degrees engagement and post it on the IVDM lab wall. The linked target symbol is a perfect, simple visual aid to grasp how engagement at all levels ties into the success of our organization. Judging a book by its excerpt, Bergeron and Tuttle book’s a perfect reference for museum professionals seeking to vocalize the elements that make museums relevant and essential to stakeholders.

Find more about Magnetic Museums on the book’s website:

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