In Fall of 2017, Museums Alaska asked our members to fill out a survey to determine whether or not we are meeting our member’s expectations, and where our members would like us to put our efforts moving forward. The responses we gathered will help shape our membership programming for the next few years. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further input!
We made the survey available through our Mailchimp email service, which is sent to all current and past members of Museums Alaska (217 subscribers). Three follow up emails were sent. The survey was available for 15 days and garnered a response rate of approximately 16% (35 responses) of the Museums Alaska membership list. Since two indicated they were not current Museums Alaska members, we determined that of the 2017 active membership (74 members), that is a response rate of approximately 45% of the membership.
Out of 35 responses, 27 identified as female (77.1%), and 8 identified as male (22.9%). The largest age group were in the 35-44 years old age bracket (25.7%, 9 respondents). The majority of respondents live and work in Southcentral Alaska (55.9%, 19 respondents). The three most common employment statuses identified were full time museum employee, part time museum employee, and museum board member, while four respondents indicated they do not work in a museum. The majority of respondents work in history museums (66.7%, 22 respondents), followed by art museums (21.2%, 7 respondents), science museums (12.1%, 4 respondents), and self-employed in the museum field (9.1%, 3 respondents). Respondents work in a variety of roles in the museum field. The top four were Collections (38.2%, 13 respondents), “I wear many hats” (31.4%, 11 respondents), Director (26.5%, 9 respondents), and Education (23.5%, 8 respondents). See further breakdowns of demographics in the graphic.
The majority of respondents hold an individual membership (54.3%, 19 respondents), while 12 responded that their institution holds a membership (34.3%). Two indicated that they are not current members. Of the individual members, 5 had been members for 11+ years, 5 for 7-10 years, 5 for 4-6 years, 3 for 1-3 years, and 4 for less than 1 year. Of the organizational members, 5 had been members for 11+ years, 4 for 7-10 years, 4 for 4-6 years, 1 for 1-3 years, and 1 for less than 1 year.
Reasons for membership levels
Respondents gave a variety of reasons for their respective membership levels. Members who were not individual members indicated that their organization was already a member, budgetary reasons, and some indicated they never thought of it and would plan to purchase one.
Members who were not organizational members indicated that their organizational leadership did not prioritize membership in their budget, or that it was not their decision to make. One person responded that they were working with their Director to get an organizational membership.
Of those two respondents who indicated they were not current members, one indicated that they forgot to renew, and the other responded that they “have not been able to attend the conference and don’t see any other benefit to that cost at this point.”
Museums Alaska in 3 Words
We asked people to list 3 words they associate with Museums Alaska. All the answers are below, with larger words reflecting greater frequency. The majority of descriptors were positive. Aside from “museums” and “Alaska,” the top 3 words were variations on “statewide,” “resource,” and “networking.”
Most Valued Current Museums Alaska Membership Benefits:
Membership on our mailing list, with regular online updates from happenings and opportunities around Alaska (71.4%, 25 respondents)
The opportunity to be part of Alaska’s voice for museums and cultural centers throughout the state (57.1%, 20 respondents).
Members’ rate for the Museums Alaska conferences (48.6%, 17 respondents)
Advocacy for museums and cultural centers at the state and national level (40%, 14 respondents)
Eligibility for travel scholarships to attend the Museums Alaska conferences (25.7%, 9 respondents)
Free admission to many of Alaska’s museums and cultural centers (22.9%, 8 respondents)
FREE job postings on our website (2.9%, 1 respondent)
One person indicated all of the above, and one person wrote in “grants” (however, we would like to point out that you do not have to be a member of Museums Alaska to participate in our grant programs!).
In your own words, what is your top reason for being a member of Museums Alaska?
“To support Alaska’s museums community.””To help support museums and cultural centers throughout Alaska.”
“The opportunity to be part of Alaska’s voice for museums and cultural centers throughout the state.”
“Support for museums by colleagues.”
“Museums are important.”
“Supporting an important organization that benefits its members tremendously.”
“It is THE state organization for museums and provides us with an annual opportunity to network, grow and learn, and be advocates for our industry.”
“Having a vehicle to connect with other museum professionals around the state.”
“Being part of the statewide voice for museums & cultural centers.”
“To support a strong statewide network of people who care about museums.”
“To support Alaska’s museums”
“General support and advocacy for museums in Alaska”
“Access to grants, museums Alaska conferences and information on accessions”
“I’ve been a museum professional for over a decade and value the Museums Alaska services”
“It keeps me connected to other museums throughout the state”
“Collaboration, networking, professional development”
“Conference and grant program”
“To connect with the larger museum community in Alaska. ”
“Being part of the state’s museum network.”
Priorities for Museums Alaska programming
We listed several ideas for new membership benefits we are considering adding to our programming, and asked respondents to rank their importance. Of those listed, the top 10 priorities of respondents were:
34 ranked as somewhat to very important
Webinars (with discount offered for members)
33 ranked as somewhat to very important
Promote museums through collaborative efforts (International Museum Day, museum snapshot, post news )
Museum document exchange (policies, procedures, etc.)
Workshops (with discount offered for members)
31 ranked as somewhat to very important
Access to Job posting or volunteer opportunities around the state
Access to email newsletter
30 ranked as somewhat to very important
Online discussion group
Access to white papers (reports)
Marketing Alaska’s museums through visitors centers and guides
What other ideas do you have?
“Additional sharing of applicable national museum issues/resources.”
“Extended grants calendar or listing.”
“Having all of MA member institutions able to put brochures on the State ferries and at the ferry terminals. Getting DOT to put up road signs pointing people to museums. Getting museums listed on maps of the state.”
“If you want people to have both an individual membership AND an organization membership there should be some incentive (not sure what?).”
“More regularly updated job and volunteer opportunity page of your website; more frequent workshops and webinars – not only at the meetings; awards for museum education; information about grant opportunities beyond those offered by the Museums Alaska.”
“More seminars and hands on workshops.”
“Networking. Having an opportunity to share staff and expertise with smaller museums. Seeing both sides of large and small museums it seems that the smaller museums are forced with reinventing the wheel for most projects and exhibits. If Museums Alaska can assist with short term projects that would be amazing. Also, museums could share upcoming exhibits on your site as an information sharing.”
Of the respondents, 23 indicated that they did not participate on Museums Alaska committees, while two did not respond to the question, for a rate of 30% committee participation of the respondents. Several of the respondents participated on multiple committees. See the breakdown below:
5 participated on the Advocacy Committee.
4 participated on the Art Acquisition Fund Grant Review Committee.
4 participated on the Collections Management Fund Grant Review Committee.
3 participated on the Conference Program Committee.
2 participated on the Membership Committee.
1 participated on the Scholarship Committee.
1 participated on the Auction Committee.
1 participated on the Finance Committee.
1 participated on the Nominating Committee.
When asked what would make them want to participate on committees, respondents gave a variety of answers:
“If I felt I had the time and knowledge to contribute.”
“If my skills could be put to any real use (eg, data mgmt).”
“If I had more time.”
“I have been in the past but have a hard time understanding who the current members are and what the issues are since I have not been to a few conferences in a row.”
“Having the time to participate.”
“Low time commitment.”
“I have served on MA committees for more than 5 years so will now take some time away.”
“Knowing when and where they meet and a listing of current committees.”
“Word-of-mouth encouragement from other committee members.”
“Knowing when to apply.”
“I think my other time commitments lessen in this coming year and I’ll be able to help.”
“If I felt like I would be a benefit to the committee and I had time.”
“Knowing I could learn some skills or gain experience that could enhance my current skill set.”
“Having the time to feel like I would make a real contribution to the cmte.”
Of the respondents, 11 indicated they were interested in running for the Museums Alaska board in the future, and 17 indicated that they were not interested in a Museums Alaska Board position.
When asked what would make respondents want to run for a Board position, respondents replied with a variety of reasons:
“When my work load is less.”
“Ability to participate in a great organization!”
“Getting to know more Museums Alaska members to better understand their needs.”
“Networking, planning, work with colleagues.”
“Better bonding with other museum professionals outside of [region].”
“I need to go off other Boards I am on.”
“Perhaps in the future when time allows.”
“If I had more time.”
“Make a difference in our museum community.”
“Having the time to feel like I was making a real contribution ;)”
Barriers to Participation
Overwhelmingly, time is the largest barrier to board and committee involvement. While Museums Alaska does not have the power to address personal time constraints (that is an individual decision), we do encourage members to reach out regarding committee opportunities and individual skillsets. We cannot stress enough that Museums Alaska is as strong as its members! Your individual skillset can be of value, but we won’t know how until you reach out! Several committees have very limited time requirements, and all committees are volunteer – meaning that if you cannot attend a meeting, there are no consequences! Our committees are always accepting new members, and we have recently added a committee section to our website, and a sign up section to our membership form. If you are interested in a board position, but don’t have the time to commit, a committee is a great stepping stone to getting to know the organization.
There are several major takeaways from this survey. Our members value the opportunities to network with their colleagues across the state, believe that Museums Alaska is doing important work, and would like to see the organization grow to include more benefits for its members. Our members have creative ideas for how to improve the organization, and we think that is great! Based on the committee and board involvement questions, we would like to encourage members to step forward and work with us to make those ideas a reality. If you are interested in getting involved in committee work, check out the list of committees. If you are interested in getting involved on the board, nominations begin late summer/early fall for voting prior to the annual meeting. Contact Della or any board member to let us know you are interested.
We value our members’ time and ideas, and look forward to continuing to serve the Alaska museum community.