The Deaccessioning Dilemma and Leadership

Bob Beatty
Feb 9, 2018 · 2 min read

I’ve done my best to stay on top of the discussion swirling around the Berkshire Museum’s desire to use deaccession proceeds to fund operating costs.

This post shared three commentaries: from the New England Museum Association; Nina Simon, and Adrian Ellis.

This post features thoughts from Ruth Taylor of the Newport (RI) Historical Society, a director’s and fieldwide perspective.

This post from Jenn Landry addressed the potential tax implications of capitalizing collections in this manner.

Earlier this week, Joan Baldwin, another of the field’s more insightful thinkers, posted on the leadership implications of the deaccessioning dilemma.

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As co-author (with Anne Ackerson) of two books that are must-haves on any museum person’s bookshelf — Leadership Matters and Women in the Museum: Lessons from the Workplace — it is no surprise that Joan has some great insights on this issue. Nor is it a surprise that they focus on issues of board and CEO leadership.

Here are Joan’s takeaways — insights that are applicable well beyond the immediate example of the Berkshire Museum.

For everything in context, read the full post here.

Lesson 1: Know your institution. Being a board member–and some would argue being a museum director–is about service, collective work to safeguard, interpret, collections, ideas and living things for and with the public.

Lesson 2: Know your community. Remember, you need to know three things: Who your community is as a whole; who comes to your museum and, most importantly, who doesn’t.

Lesson 3: Be a good communicator. Individually, but most importantly collectively, boards need to communicate clearly and well. If you’re on the board, and you don’t understand something, how will the public understand?

Lesson 4: Trust your community. To trust them, you have to know them.

Lesson 5: Believe in the institution. Anything else is like buying a house you intend to tear down.

Please read the full post here as Joan has given us much to think about well beyond the lessons of the Berkshire Museum.

As always, I’m very interested in your thoughts on this post, or the discussion in general.

A twenty-year veteran of the nonprofit world, Bob Beatty is founder of The Lyndhurst Group, a history, museum, and nonprofit consulting firm providing community-focused engagement strategies for institutional planning, organizational assessments, and interpretive direction.

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