The Montana Historical Society is undertaking a review to discover more meaningful ways to engage visitors at the new Montana Heritage Center, which currently is under construction in Helena.
In particular, MHS wants to identify new ways to better engage American Indian visitors, researchers, presenters, and program participants.
“We perceive of ourselves as being inclusive, but do Indian communities feel this way?” said Deb Mitchell, MHS Outreach and Interpretation program specialist. “If not, how do we reach them and meet their expectations?”
The Museum Assessment Program is administered by the national American Alliance of Museums. Through a guided self-study assessment and on-site consultation with a museum professional, participation in the assessment will empower MHS to better serve the citizens of Montana.
“Choosing to be part of the MAP program is indicative of the commitment to civic involvement, public service and overall excellence on the part of the Montana Historical Society,” said Laura Lott, president of AAM. “Studies have shown America’s museums to be among the country’s most trusted and valued institutions. MAP is designed to make them even better.”
Mitchell added that the $52 million addition and upgrades to the current building will greatly increase MHS’ ability to provide in-house services to K-12 educators, including in the new classroom space.
“One of our top priorities is to develop a plan to best use the resources in serving not just K-12 teachers and students who currently use our materials, but also to reach new audiences as well,” she said.
The assessment also will explore the demographics of MHS visitors and consider how to reach people who are not attending events or exhibits there.
“Too often, museum programming is perceived as stuffy or predictable,” Mitchell said. “By going through this program, we will shift more to a contemporary vision of the audience’s wants and needs by evaluating our assets and building a good foundation to make our programming fit a broader audience.”
As the project progresses, MHS will call on community volunteers for assistance.
The museum’s participation is made possible through funding provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). MAP helps museums strengthen operations, plan for the future, and meet standards through self-study assessment and a consultative site visit from an expert peer reviewer.
Since its creation in 1981, the MAP program has served more than 5,000 museums.
For more information about AAM, visit www.aam-us.org.
For additional information about the assessment, contact Deb Mitchell at 406/444-4789 or email@example.com