CSU, Chico News

Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology Selected to Participate in National Museum Assessment Program

Date: 11-29-2012

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Adrienne Scott
Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology

California State University, Chico’s Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology has been selected to participate in the prestigious national Museum Assessment Program (MAP).

Through guided self-study and onsite consultation with a museum professional, participation in MAP will aid the museum in better serving visitors by meeting the highest professional standards of the museum field.

The assessment program is funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and throughout its 30 years has been administered by the American Association of Museums (AAM).

As part of the IMLS National Leadership program, MAP advances best practices and fosters improvement in museums. MAP is a self-motivated program; application to and participation in MAP are initiated by each local institution, and those accepted invest considerable human and institutional resources into the assessment.

CSU, Chico anthropology professor Stacy Schaefer, co-director of the museum, said the MAP process will enable the museum leadership team to plan the next important steps for the museum. Over the past few years, the museum has seen very significant changes, the foremost being named for anthropology professor emerita Valene L. Smith, a longtime supporter and benefactor of the museum, and moving its location to the Meriam Library complex.

The members of the leadership team for the assessment program are Schaefer; Georgia Fox, professor of anthropology and co-director of the museum; Antoinette Martinez, chair of the anthropology department; Museum Curator Adrienne Scott; and Leslie Schibsted, advancement director for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

The team has invited a focus group of Chico community leaders to also participate in the assessment program. “The museum is growing as an educational institutional entity and is an important resource on campus as well as a partner in the community,” said Schaefer. “As we grow and evolve, we will be incorporating the newest, up-to-date professional museum management standards recognized by the American Association of Museums.”

MAP is a confidential process of self-study, peer review and implementation. Museums use the assessment process to strengthen operations, build capacity and enhance communication throughout the organization and in response to community needs.

Small and midsized museums of all types, including art, history, science and technology, children’s and natural history museums; historic houses; nature centers; botanical gardens; and zoos participate in the MAP program.

Participant museums choose one of three categories for the assessment: Collections Stewardship, Organizational or Community Engagement. The Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology will take part in the Organizational assessment process.

“Our students will learn from this process as I and co-director Georgia Fox share these developments with students in our museum studies classes and with students who work in the museum,” Schaefer said. “In turn, our students will also gain even greater professional museum experience as we implement the recommendations presented by our museum consultant.”

“Choosing to be part of the MAP program is indicative of the commitment to civic involvement, public service and overall excellence on the part of Chico’s Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology,” said Ford W. Bell, president of AAM. “Studies have shown America’s museums to be among the country’s most trusted and valued institutions. MAP is designed to make them even better.”

Since its creation in 1981, the MAP program has served more than 4,300 museums. MAP is supported through a cooperative agreement with IMLS. For more information, including a complete list of museums participating in MAP, please visit www.aam-us.org/map.

AAM is the only organization representing the nation’s entire museum community and has been promoting excellence within the museum field for more than 100 years. For more information about AAM, visit www.aam-us.org. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. To learn more about the Institute, please visit http://www.imls.gov.

The Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology offers several student-generated exhibitions per academic year and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The museum offers a monthly World Explorations lecture series, a popular children’s summer camp and other annual events to serve the campus and the North State public.

The next exhibition opens Dec. 18 and runs through July 2013. The museum will close over the campus winter break, Dec. 22 to Jan. 2. The exhibition will focus on humanity’s interest and explanations of the night sky from the earliest civilizations to our most recent successful voyage to Mars. All exhibitions explore topics from many disciplines with an anthropological lens. The museum is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology, call 530-898-5397 or visit http://www.csuchico.edu/anthmuseum/index.shtml.