Last year, the AMHA Board of Directors decided to participate in the American Association for State and Local History’s Standards and Excellence Program, also known as StEPs. The goal of the StEPs program is to help museums and historical organizations make themselves better through a self-guided list of standards. In other words, we see what we should be doing, and how it compares to what we are doing. Every time we meet a standard, we get to give ourselves a check mark, the paper version of a pat on the back.
The StEPs are broken down into six categories:
Mission, Vision, and Governance – Does our mission statement say what we do, and do we do what our mission statement says? How does the Board of Directors work and lead AMHA?
Management – Are we fiscally, ethically, and all-around responsible? Do we run well?
Interpretation – Are our exhibits, newsletters, and programs effective and interesting to our audience?
Audience – Speaking of audience, who is our audience? Who comes to visit the cottage or attend our programs? Are we getting our message out to the community?
Stewardship of Collections – How do we care for and use our collections (donated items)?
Stewardship of Historic Structures and Landscapes – How do we take care of our historic spaces?
Overall, the main question is “Can we run better?” Are we doing a good job now, and can we find ways to be better and/or more efficient?
Good things have already come from this. For one, we revisited our mission statement and made it more prominent in our activities. We made a few revisions from our original (1991) mission statement, but absolutely kept the original intention of AMHA. We’ve also made the mission statement more visible throughout the organization. It’s now posted next to our guest sign-in book at the cottage, and you’ll also notice it on page 2 of our newsletters, on our website and Twitter, and on various other items we send out. Now there should never be a question about who we are and what we do.
We’ve also accomplished other, smaller tasks that will help AMHA run well and pursue our mission, like creating a chart showing who each set of volunteers reports to. These accomplishments, while seemingly small, will help us work efficiently to bring you more history and local goodness.
I’ll share more of our achievements with you as we continue our StEPs project.