Leadership and Administration for History Organizations

American Associacion of State and Local History
Primary contact: American Associacion of State and Local History
Where: Online
Jun 1 - Jul 26, 2020


History museum leadership is more complex and demanding than ever before, requiring updated and innovative ways to meet missions and keep organizations healthy. Thoughtful, intentional museum administration and leadership matters, regardless of the size or focus of your organization.

This eight week course will address the following:

  • Governance and administrative structures
  • Nonprofit status and the public trust
  • Mission and vision
  • The relationship between board and staff, including their roles and responsibilities
  • Strategic planning
  • Human resource development and management, and leadership

The course will include a combination of topical reading assignments and related weekly assignments and online chats. A final course assignment is due the last week of class.

Course Syllabus

  • Week 1: Course overview; an inside look at nonprofits, public trust, and governance
  • Week 2: Museum boards and their roles, responsibilities, expectations, and their relationship to museum staff
  • Week 3: The importance of museum vision and mission
  • Week 4:  Administrative and management responsibilities, relationships, structures, systems and networks
  • Week 5:  Human Resource management – building effective teams and mentoring
  • Week 6:  Why leadership matters at all levels
  • Week 7:  Charting your museum’s future and measuring effectiveness
  • Week 8:  Putting it all together – where the field is heading and how you fit in

Learning Objectives

After completing this course, participants will understand principles and best practices of Leadership and Administration, including the following:

  • The public trust role and governance structure of most nonprofit museums
  • The importance of museum mission, vision, change, and strategic planning
  • The major administrative and leadership roles and responsibilities of the board and staff
  • The key issues in human resource management, including building effective teams
  • Why leadership matters at all levels
  • Charting your museum’s future and measuring effectiveness
  • Where the museum field is heading in the future


Cost: $195 AASLH Members / $295 Nonmembers

Registration: Registration is open March 2, 2020 - May 24, 2020; there is a 20 participant limit.

Length: 8 weeks

Target Audience: Successful participants will be individuals in institutional leadership positions at the staff, board, and volunteer levels (where volunteers supervise others), who have significant decision-making responsibilities and who have the ability to affect positive, substantive change within their organizations. This course is not appropriate for students, interns, or volunteers who do not have managerial responsibilities. We recommend that only one person per institution take this course at a time. To read about a participant’s experience, take a look at this blog post by a Leadership and Administration student: Leadership Matters At Every Level.

Participation: Students will participate in weekly one-hour online chats (schedule to be determined based on student availability) and assignments and complete a final course assignment. Students should expect to spend 3-4 hours per week on this course.

Materials: There are two required texts for this course:

  1. Leadership Matters: Leading Museums in an Age of Discord, Second Edition, Anne W. Ackerson and Joan H. Baldwin, 2019
  2. Museum Administration 2.0, Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Irleland, Revised by Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, 2016. (Texts are NOT INCLUDED with your registration. You must order the book separately from the book seller of your choice.)

Credit: Successful completion of this course (80% or higher) will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro! certificate from AASLH.

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