Collection Development Plan

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) requires accredited member museums to meet core standards in collection stewardship, including the “regular assessment of, and planning for, collection needs.” MAM’s comprehensive approach to stewardship includes a Collection Management Policy to guide collection care and use and a Collection Development Plan to describe the intellectual framework of the collections and recommend their strategic development.

MAM’s mission, vision, institutional strategic plan, and indigenous land and culture statement, provide this plan’s inspiration to balance the museum’s work of collecting, education, and outreach. Using the plan will help MAM to develop the collection as a meaningful resource to achieve the mission “to serve the public by engaging audiences and artists in the exploration of contemporary art relevant to the community, state and region.” Following this proactive roadmap will ensure that the collections remain relevant to MAM’s aspirations, stabilize rapid growth, increase confidence in decision making, and help MAM use limited resources effectively.

Planning allows MAM to reflect on the current collection and clarify why a collection is needed to engage the public. The document poses new questions, such as:

  • How do MAM’s mission and values and interpretive strategy relate to the collection?
  • What areas need to grow to meet the mission and strategic goals?
  • What items, if any, should be considered for deaccession?

The plan calls for enhanced collecting initiatives in the following areas:

  • Montana Modernism: Deepen relationships with collectors and potential donors.
  • Contemporary American Indian Art: Develop alliances and conduct curatorial outreach on the seven reservations in Montana.
  • Challenging, contemporary, regional art: Establish goals in conversation with artists.

The plan calls for slower or refocused collecting in areas including:

  • Career-spanning representations of individual artists
  • Works that serve Art in Public Places loans more than mission-driven gallery exhibitions
  • Artist books, portfolios, sketchbooks, and archival materials

The plan lays the groundwork for thoughtful deaccessioning of collections that are not related to the museum’s mission or that are duplicative. These efforts may focus on production and pre-WWII ceramics and works that have fulfilled their material life so that they no longer able to serve the mission.

The plan also compiles conservation issues for the first time, and proposes MAM’s first research plan that will link program development with collections in effective ways.

Taken together, these efforts will establish a baseline by which to measure success in achieving institutional strategic goals.

Download the 2019-2024 Collection Development Plan

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