What are your museum questions?

Mark Walhimer Exhibition Design, Exhibition Management, FAQ, Museum Planning, Starting A Museum 19 Comments

What are the top challenges facing your museum?

If you could ask someone for some advice, what would you ask?

On MuseumPlanner.org I try to address all issues facing museums and museum professionals, whether you are an established museum or just starting out. Over the next month, I’m here to help.   All you need to do is ask your question below in the “Post a comment” section.

Ask your questions, your challenges, whatever. Then, over the next couple weeks I’ll review all the comments and do my best to try to help as many of you as I can.

Look forward to hearing from you!


Comments 19

  1. Greetings,
    I am a board member of a small museum and was assigned to revamp it’s membership form last year. When we published and sent out the forms this past January, I heard a lot of comments about how the form was confusing and tough to understand. The comments mostly came from our senior citizen members who make up a large majority of our membership. How do I make a good membership form for our museum? We don’t want a very complicated form but we don’t want a simple, unprofessional looking form. I would appreciate any advice!

  2. Hi Mark,
    I hope this question isn’t off topic. I’m currently in a museum studies program (graduate level) and I know I speak for a number of my fellow students when I say the function of human resources departments at museums seems a bit of a mystery. Somehow they sift through countless resumes to find a preferred candidate. What are the looking for? What sets one candidate apart from all the rest? Experience? Word of mouth personal references? Grasp of theory? Practical skills? Some mysterious resumé golden nugget? I would like to focus the balance of my education on the specific skills/knowledge museums (or design companies focused on museums) find most critical. FYI, my focus is exhibition design, marketing, digital initiatives but I think the question applies to all areas of academic focus. Thank you.

  3. Hi Mark, Thanks for this great opportunity to “Pick your brain”. My 3 Questions are: 1.Which comes first the Inventory, or the building? 2. If I want “Celebrity” Exhibitions at a new museum I’m planning, When should I approach them? and 3. How important/ necessary is a feasibility report when planning a Museum?
    Thanks again.
    Jordan P.

  4. Hi Mark.

    Thanks so much for this opportunity.

    I work in a small-medium size museum and fundraising and sponsorship are a major challenge. We are about to launch a capital campaign to build a visitor centre as part of our new strategic plan and we need to raise over $1 million.

    Any suggestions on how to do this successfully? How much time do you think we will need to achieve this goal and how many staff & volunteer hours do you think are required?

    Thanks again!


    Hi Mark. I hope these questions are relevant..

    1. Why is science centre providing experiences in

    2. What are the
    strategies to provide an experience?

    3. What is science centre new exhibition experience?

    4. Making the scientific issue more “experienceable”.

    5. Benefits as an informal learning tool. Comments.

    6. Limitations of science centre experience. Comments.

    7. How is science centre providing experiential

    8. Elements of an experience exhibits. Comments.

    Thank You! Nurhaya

  6. Hi Jordan,
    Thank you for the question. For me the visitor experience always comes first. Architects often design from the “outside in”, creating an exterior before the interior. I believe in creating experience objectives and pathway, then working with an architect to accomplish objectives.

    Not sure what you mean by “Celebrity Exhibitions”, exhibitions that include objects of celebrities?

    At the very least a new museum requires a solid business plan. Have seen many museums struggle in their second and third year from overly optimistic attendance projections.


  7. Dear Nurhaya,

    Thank you for the question.

    “Experiential Factors” is a bit of a catch all. I am a firm believer in Constructivist Learning Theory, https://museumplanner.org/museums-are-communication/, https://museumplanner.org/constructivism-learning-theory/. Understanding how to deconstruct a vistor’s beliefs is a delicate dance. We all have our preconceived beliefs, understanding those beliefs and changing them them in an informal environment is the role of Science Centers,

  8. Jakob,
    I always recommend “try it and see what happens”.

    Have you stood at the museum’s exit with your membership form and asked seniors for feedback ? I would start there and in an hour you will learn a tremendous amount.


  9. Hi Clay,

    I would skip the HR department altogether and go and volunteer. Most museum HR departments are a “black hole” from which no resume returns.

    I started off my career volunteering and still volunteer at institutions that I support. You may be interested in https://museumplanner.org/getting-a-museum-job/


  10. Hey Mark, just wanted to say thanks for making this site. It’s been my favorite source for museum info. I have a question about a situation that I have not personally run into but that I am curious to hear your opinion on. As any enduring institution knows, it is worthwhile to value the trademark characteristics that have made you successful in the past but we also have to adapt to visitor needs as they change. Have you seen museums struggling to update/shift their approaches? If so, what are your tips? How much should a museum be concerned with maintaining a contemporary image?

  11. Hi Mark, I am afraid to ask this but I am going to do it anyway. I want to found an industry changing, world impacting, fashion museum in St. Louis Missouri What does my first steps look like? Generally, what does this type of road map look like? Also, I hate debt so I refuse to get loans. What are my options? Thank you. I am grateful for this site.

  12. Hi Mark, thanks for your site, so helpfull. 🙂
    Can you help me? I need information (definition, criteria, etc) all about redesign of museum..please.. thanks Mark

  13. Hi Mark,

    What is a general estimate for concept and design for a 4,000 square foot interactive exhibit?

  14. How do you specialize in Exhibit Design? I am working in a small museum, doing a variety of tasks. I would like to specialize in Exhibit design, like those seen in large museums.Is there a course or pathway which you would recommend?

  15. i want to create a museum for my community i need to know what things i need in order to create it

  16. Hi Mark,

    I’m a lawyer in the Philippines. There is a museum that is currently under construction and I understand they are having difficulty moving on with documentation. I offered my services as a volunteer. The funny thing is, when the person in charge learned of my desire to volunteer, she was puzzled (why I wish to volunteer) and asked “what’s the catch?” I have had my share of travel abroad with my husband and, each time, we visit museums and my husband and I agree that the Philippines should develop more museums and not malls. In one of your replies you said all your life you volunteered to museums. I think that is very honorable. I, too, wish to do that. I believe museums are a great legacy to generations to come. And so, my question is, is there a reference that I can buy to help a lawyer in the setting up of museums?

    Thank you and more power.

  17. Hi, Mark, what a great idea to have this. i have a bundle of questions but I will start with just one. For next semester, I am planning with my high school students to make a museum at the school. We are planning on having different exhibits for each month. We got the authorization of the school and we have not a very big area but it is a building that serves as a warehouse. I am planning that it would be a history museum. It is only a school project but where do I start? Where can I find how to make exhibits? What do we need? (Well, sorry, more than one question). Please help!

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