AAM Direct Care Task Force Update: June 2015

The Direct Care Task Force met during the Alliance annual meeting in Atlanta to discuss the results of the opinion survey conducted in February and to frame the forthcoming White Paper.

Their lively and thoughtful discussions covered discipline-specific issues, philosophies and viewpoints, and frequently went back to the topic of financially motivated deaccessioning. Representatives from New Knowledge, the non-profit think tank and planning group that conducted the survey for AAM, presented their findings and analysis of the data.

A very broad range of museum types and job functions were represented by the surveys 1258 respondents: Nearly three quarters of the respondents identified their primary role in the museum industry as responsible for Collections (74.1%) while a quarter (24.4%) hold executive office. Nearly all the remaining respondents hold primary roles that are either executive or managerial; a handful are in other roles. The types of museums participating broke down as: History 32%; Art 28%; Specialized, Multi-disciplinary or visitor center 17%; Natural History 11%; Science/Technology 5%; Arboretum/ Botanical or Public Garden 4%; Children’s / Youth 2%; Aquarium/Zoo 1%.

Before seeing the results, the Task Force hypothesized that a respondents position in an organization and the discipline of participating institutions would influence the outcome of the survey. However, the analysis found no statistical differences. In examining both the open-ended responses and general ratings, it appears that respondents were most likely considering their audience, the Alliance, and answering altruistically as professionals in the field rather than as representatives of a particular disciplinary viewpoint.

Survey results showed 1) a few areas of consensus from a statistical perspective and 2) a vast gray area. The most common of the open-ended final comments expressed appreciation for the timeliness of the survey and the need for resolving the parameters for direct care. As a result, the Task Force focused on identifying guiding principles and criteria for decision-making, not creating a definitive yes/no list or a singular definition of direct care.

The survey results provided the Task Force with a useful scan of the attitudes on the issue of direct care and acquisition costs, from a wide variety of viewpoints. They will inform the White Paper to be released in the spring of 2016. The Task Force agreed that the White Paper should not be prescriptive but should clarify the ethical issues surrounding the topic of direct care and provide guidance for museums in their decision-making.

Learn more about the Task Force members and charge here <> <>


Sally Yerkovich, ChairAAM Direct Care Task Force


American Alliance of Museums Honors Ford W. Bell

The Alliance is proud to announce the Ford W. Bell Fellowship for Museums and K-12 Education.  The new fellowship—established through the Alliance’s Center for the Future of Museums to honor the legacy of retiring President Dr. Ford W. Bell—will empower museums to shape the future of K-12 education through the immersive, experiential, passion-based learning at which our field excels. To support the work of the fellow, the Alliance has launched a $250,000 fundraising campaign—and we’re nearly half way to our goal!

Contributions through June 30 will be matched 2:1 thanks to generous foundation support.


New Leadership at AAM

Laura L. Lott is the new president and chief executive officer of the American Alliance of Museums, representing the nation’s museum community. Previously serving as chief operating officer, Lott is the ninth president of the 109-year-old organization and the first woman to lead the Alliance since its founding. Lott brings to the position an extensive background in nonprofit management and a passion for museums as places of lifelong learning. Lott’s appointment follows an extensive search and was effective June 1, 2015.   

“As chief operating officer since 2010, Laura has led the Alliance through a number of milestone moments, including an organizational re-launch and redesign of the membership and excellence programs,” said Kaywin Feldman, chair of the Alliance Board of Directors and Duncan and Nivin MacMillan director and president of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. “Laura’s vision for the future of the Alliance is aligned with the board’s strategic priorities to expand the organization internationally and strengthen its position as a thought leader and advocate for museums.” 
While serving as chief operating officer, Lott developed and led an aggressive turnaround plan to eliminate seven years of operating deficits within two years, while investing in and launching a complete re-brand, new technology infrastructure and website, and a new museum membership paradigm yielding 50% growth in museum members. 
“Laura has been instrumental to the Alliance’s evolution over the past five years,” said Dr. Ford W. Bell, who retired as the Alliance president in May. “She has steered and inspired the Alliance staff, serving as an exceptional leader at the Alliance and within the greater museum community.” 
Following Bell’s retirement announcement last summer, the Alliance Board appointed a six-person search committee. Working with Spencer Stuart, one of the world’s leading executive search consulting firms, the committee reviewed a number of excellent candidates from across the country. The Board voted unanimously to appoint Lott during its February meeting. 
“My career has focused on educational programming at global organizations, and my deepest passion for museums is the important role they play in experiential education,” said Lott. “I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished at the Alliance over the past five years in service to the museum field. I’m thrilled to work with the Board and our talented staff and volunteers to take the Alliance to the next level.” 
Lott has guided the evolution and growth of several nonprofit education organizations through a multitude of challenging circumstances, setting and achieving aggressive programmatic and financial goals. Prior to the Alliance, Lott served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer of The JASON Project, an international nonprofit education program at the National Geographic Society with a mission to inspire and motivate students to learn science through great explorers and events.   
Prior to National Geographic, Lott helped launch the MarcoPolo: Internet Content for the Classroom program at the former MCI Foundation and managed its state partnerships as well as MCI’s community relations program. A certified public accountant, Lott began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers focusing on nonprofit clients. She graduated from American University’s Kogod School of Business and currently resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and daughter.