Comparing Museum Management in the United States Vs the United Kingdom

Saturday, January 5, 2019
Stevens C Prefunction (Hilton Chicago)
Adeline Walsh, Wayne State University
Within museum studies, there are often debates about the best way to manage a museum. Many of these debates are about private vs public museums. How are they similar or different? Is one better than the other? The answers to these questions are complex. I have been able to compare the museum managing styles of Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan (private) with St. Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff, Wales (public). More specifically, their differences in funding and how these effect each museum. Through onsite research, reading authors like Simon Woodward and Gail Anderson, along with interviewing museum employees, I have been able to identify the most notable differences and similarities between both. These include: their ratio of private to public funding, public policy, goals for staff, how each preserve and presents history, kids’ activities, what they charge for, and many more. One is not better than the other but it is important to understand they can have different funding sources and management styles and both be successful.

This research is important to any museum no matter the size, funding, or background. There is a lot to be gained by studying how other museums are managed. They inspire and give different perspectives. They constantly are evolving how they present history in order to best display and teach the public. This topic is important to scholars because a strong museum is key to preserving what they study. This topic is significant to museum professionals because for museums to evolve they must be able to adapt to their challenges and their audience. No two museums are identical but they can learn from each other in order to work more efficiently and create a better visitor experience.

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