Steam Engine at the Western Development Museum - Moose Jaw

What’s your Mission?

Posted in Management by Kathleen Watkin on August 6th, 2014

If you have recently attended Network meetings, this post will sound familiar to you.  Not to sound like a broken record, but, do you know what your mission statement is? If you don't, quick find it! What does it say?

A mission statement (or statement of purpose) is essential for museum.  It outlines what the museum's ultimate purpose and focus is.  Without it, how will the museum know how to direct its energy? What makes the museum different than other types of educational/non-profit institutions?

A good mission statement should address WHAT the museum does, FOR WHOM is it serving, WHY it does what it does, and HOW it will accomplish these. Making and evaluating a mission statement is no easy task. It requires the entire museum to work together to craft a statement that is relevent to the situation in the community today. This doesn't mean that a single person crafts the mission statement and everyone else supports it; everyone needs to participate. Having everyone participate might even mean that the museum needs to go outside its walls.  The village/town/city that the museum is in needs to consulted as well as the communities that the museum represents. These communities could be the various ethnic groups.

Having a mission statement keeps you in check.  Knowing what you are trying to achive helps makes decisions easier; are your activities in line with this goal?  If you have read MAS' tip-sheets, such as the new Mission Based Collecting, you can begin to see how a mission statement can guide you.  This is just the tip of the iceburg! Stay tuned for more tip-sheets this year that look at museum operations through this lens.

Not only does a mission statement inform the public as to what you are all about but if they want to donate items or visit, at least they have an idea of what it is they'll see or what you collect.  A mission statement gives the public a quick snapshot about you. So! Pull out that mission statement. Read it. Review it. Revise it. 

Further reading:

American Alliance of Museums (2012). Developing a Mission Statement. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from:

Anderson, Gail (2000). Museum Mission Statements: Building a Distinct Identity. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums.

Community Sector Council for Newfoundland and Labrador (2010). Tips for Creating a Mission Statement. Retrieved August 6, 2014 from

Massey, S. (2010). Standards for Saskatchewan Museums. Regina, SK: Museums Association of Saskatchewan.

Selman, C. (2014). Mission Based Collecting. Regina, SK: Museums Association of Saskatchewan. Retrieved July 21, 2014 from:

Vergeront, Jeanne (January 15, 2012). Museum Notes: Mission Check [blog]. Retrieved on August 6, 2014 from

Vergeront, Jeanne (January 31, 2011). Museum Notes: Missions that Matter [blog]. Retrieved on July 30, 2014 from

Vergeront, Jeanne (July 12, 2014). Museum Notes: Polishing the Mission [blog]. Retrieved on August 6, 2014 from

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