October 1, 2015
By Craig Hadley
Director/Curator, DePauw University Galleries & Collections
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) - Museum Assessment Program (MAP) is perhaps the single best tool for conquering seemingly overwhelming obstacles. After nearly four years in my current post as director/curator of the Peeler Art Center Galleries and Collections at DePauw University, I now have a very good sense of the many mountains that stood in our way: a fragmented and underfunded art collection, essential policy and procedure documents in various states of completion and approval, and mounting concerns about staffing and budgetary constraints. Having participated in three MAP assessments at a previous academic art museum, I knew this would be a vital step in creating a strong strategic plan for the galleries and collections program at DePauw.
Our first MAP assessment was completed during October 2014 and focused specifically on care and access to the university art collection. With more than 3,500 works of art spanning Old Master prints to contemporary artwork and everything in between, our assessor provided sound advice and a clear roadmap for the next three to five years. Within six short months, our dedicated staff, two full-time and two part-time, had completed nearly all of our core MAP recommendations, including:
- The creation of a three-year collection move plan to consolidate the university art collection in one centralized location.
- Securing internal and private funding for the move and rehousing project.
- Restructuring of gallery staff reporting to comply with museum best practices.
- Receiving Board of Trustee approval for museum policies and procedures.
- And completion of the AAM Core Documents Verification Program.
Many of these changes would have been difficult, if not impossible, without the authoritative backing of our peer assessor and the invaluable report they generated. Now in the midst of completing a second MAP assessment, it is our hope that the galleries and collections at DePauw University will receive AAM Accreditation within the next four years. MAP has inspired our staff to dream big and push our program to be a role model for other academic museums and galleries.
Craig Hadley is Director and Curator of Exhibitions and University Collections at DePauw University. Operating within a small liberal arts college of 2,200 students in Greencastle, Indiana, Craig is responsible for overseeing the programs, operations, and expenditures of the Peeler Art Center’s 7,500 square feet of exhibition space and approximately 3,500 permanent collection objects.