Online Course: Leadership and Administration for History Organizations (Summer 2020)

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An AASLH Small Museum Pro! Online Course

Course Description 

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

During the eight weeks of this course, modules addressing 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 will be covered. 

The course is divided into eight weekly segments and includes a combination of topical reading assignments and related weekly assignments and online chats. A final course assignment is due the last week of class.

    Week 1: The Role, Challenges, and Expectations of History Museums Today  
    Week 2: The New Museum Leadership
    Week 3: The Importance of Museum Vision and Mission
    Week 4: Aligning Organizational Operating Models, Administrative and Management Responsibilities, Relationships, Structures, Systems and Networks
    Week 5: Museum Boards Are Leaders, Too: Their Roles, Responsibilities, Expectations, and Their Relationship to the Director and to Museum Staff
    Week Six:  Human Resource Management – Building Effective Teams and Mentoring
    Week Seven:  Making Leadership Intentional at All Levels Week Eight: Charting Your Museum's Future, Inspiring Action, and Measuring Effectivenes


COURSE DATES: June 1 - July 26, 2020

COST: $195 AASLH Members / $295 Nonmembers

OPEN REGISTRATION: March 2, 2020 - May 24, 2020; 20 participant limit

Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, instructor-led, weekly-paced course

LENGTH: 8 weeks

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Bi-weekly one-hour online chats; weekly assignments; final course assignment. Students should expect to spend 3-4 hours per week on the course.

MATERIALS: Two required texts: Leadership Matters: Leading Museums in an Age of Discord, Second Edition, Anne W. Ackerson and Joan H. Baldwin, 2019 and 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.

Participant Outcomes

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; and
  • where the museum field is heading in the future.

Who Should Take This Course

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.

Anne W. Ackerson

AASLH Online Course Instructor; Independent Consultant

     In a career spanning four decades, Anne W. Ackerson has served as director of several historic house museums and historical societies in central and eastern New York, the director of the Museum Association of New York, and the executive director of the national Council of State Archivists (CoSA). She continues to work for CoSA on a contract basis as coordinator of communications and development.

     Anne began an independent consulting practice in 1997, focusing on organizational development issues for the smaller nonprofit cultural institution. She writes about management and leadership issues for cultural institutions in her blog, Leading by Design. She is a frequent workshop/webinar presenter on issues of museum ethics, executive leadership, financial management, and board roles and responsibilities. Anne is currently involved with Gail Anderson and Dina Bailey in The Resilience Playbook project, which coaches museums through a process of rigorous self-assessment to reframe and realign for greater mission impact.

     In addition to teaching the AASLH Online Course Leadership and Administration for History Organizations, she developed curriculum materials and a webinar on strategic planning for the American Association of State and Local History’s STEPS program, a national standards program for history museums.

     She is the co-author to two books: Leadership Matters: Leading Museums in an Age of Discord (second edition, 2019) and Women in the Museum: Lessons from the Workplace (2017). She is a co-founder of the Gender Equity in Museums Movement(GEMM).


Online Course Access Information
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource.
Certificate of Completion
1 Small Museum Pro! Certificate Credit credit  |  Certificate available
1 Small Museum Pro! Certificate Credit credit  |  Certificate available Successful completion of this course (80% or higher) will earn one credit toward the Small Museum Pro! certificate from AASLH.

Cancellation/Refunds for onsite workshops must be submitted in writing via email or mail. Cancellations made prior to the early-bird registration deadline date will receive a full refund. Cancellations made between the early-bird deadline date and eight days prior to the workshop will be subject to a $55 processing/materials charge. No refunds will be given within seven days of the workshop date. AASLH is not responsible for cancellations that were mailed or emailed but never received.

Cancellations/Refunds for online continuing education (webinars and online courses) must be submitted in writing via email or mail. Cancellations made prior to the start date for the online course or the day of the webinar will be given a full refund. No refund will be given after the start date for the online course or on/after the day of the webinar. Registrants may transfer their registration to another person. Registrations cannot be transferred between courses or course sessions. AASLH is not responsible for cancellations that were mailed or emailed but never received.

If you have any questions, please contact AASLH Programs staff at 615-320-3203 or