Yesterday I had the pleasure of moderating my dream panel of museum executive directors in a discussion about how they have transformed their museums in recent years.
The speakers were Graham Beal, Executive Director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Lori Fogarty, Director and CEO of the Oakland Museum of California, and Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. I chose these directors because they are at different places along the continuum of change. The DIA is 10 years into their change process, OMCA is 5 years in, and the Asian is just about 2 years in.
One takeaway is that change is difficult and it takes a long time. The process might look orderly on the outside but is frequently chaotic on the inside. The museums have had varying levels of success at community engagement over time, but overall as they begin to see the fruits of their labor, they hear things like: “Thank you for doing this for Oakland.” The “new” DIA just successfully passed a property tax initiative (one 10th of one percent, called a millage) in the three main counties they serve, providing free admission to those county residents plus free school bus tours. In exchange they will receive $23 million per year for ten years, allowing them to raise the money they need to grow their endowment to become self-supporting. The “old” DIA would never have been able to pass the tax measure. Without it, they would have had to close. The Asian recently saw a street art origami installation appear on their building that tells them that people are beginning to have a conversation with them.
Here are the slides from their presentations:
And here are some books and articles that they wanted to share:
A New Brand World: Eight Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the Twenty-First Century by Scott Bedbury
Leading Change by John Kotter
(He also wrote “Leading Change: Why Most Transformations Fail” for Harvard Business Review. Same key points in article form)
Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges
Ten Tasks of Change: Demystifying Changing Organizations by Jeff Evans and Chuck Schaefer
The Asian’s brand launch was covered in the New York Times
The Smithsonian used Wolff Olins for their rebranding (the firm the Asian used):
I’d like to thank all three of them for sharing their expertise!