The Chrysler Museum of Art is One of Six Nationally Featured "Magnetic Museums"
The Six Magnetic Museums
Chrysler Museum of Art
Conner Prairie Interactive
The Franklin Institute
Greensboro Science Center
Philbrook Museum of Art
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Three years of research by two museum experts focused on what it takes to make a museum successful. After analyzing dozens of institutions, they found six museums that illustrated common traits of what they called "magnetic museums."
The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of the six.
In a broad sense, Anne Bergeron and Beth Tuttle, authors of Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement, found six key factors in increasing audience engagement. They include an institution-wide shared vision of core values, a sense of engagement that builds from the inside out, the empowerment of others with a people-first, service-first mentality, and the building of trust by way of superior performance.
As the authors wrote:
The Chrysler's primary goal is providing a high-quality visitor experience that connects people with art in meaningful ways. The collection, rather than being the focal point and an end in and of itself, is instead just one of the critical means to achieving the institution's mission. This transition to a guest- and service-centered organization has required a substantive evolution of programs, approaches and policies, as well as a significant shift in the museum's curatorial and management philosophy and staff culture.
To summarize, in the Chrysler's case the authors found:
We're good with money.
What staffers might call tight and what board members might call frugal is what analysts and experts call fiscal responsibility. It's important for donors to know their money will not be frittered away, and the book contains plenty of praise for our trustees and Director William Hennessey.
We have a strong corporate culture.
The default answer at the Chrysler is not "That's not my department" but "Yes, I can help with that." It flows both ways, top to bottom and bottom to top, and it's a management style the authors called "participatory leadership."
We are accessible and inviting to all.
Moving to a free admission policy has helped diversify our audience, and our gallery hosts are key players in setting a friendly tone. The authors quoted this bit of visitor feedback: "An unusually happy staff here. Must be a great place to work. It wasn't just the size of the museum, which was perfect, but the warm tone the staff set."
Here's how the authors wrapped up their segment on the Chrysler:
To understand the Chrysler's success, one need only to hear the staff talk about what it means to be trusted and supported, or watch what happens when curators Jeff Harrison and Amy Brandt happily apply their scholarship in service to visitor enjoyment, or feel the excitement of a young visitor engaged in hands-on learning in the Glass Studio. Each of these is a moment of empowerment when the institution acts in service to others, involving them as equal partners in developing their skills, interests and insights through experiences with art. ... A visionary and participatory style ... is at the core of what makes this such a vibrant place."
The book is on sale at magneticmuseums.com.