Association of Art Museum Directors Educational Foundation (New York, NY)

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Map with numerous colored dots

A map from the Detroit Institute of Arts' (DIA) Mapping Report, produced by the Association of Art Museum Directors' Mapping Project 

In 2008, the Association of Art Museum Directors Educational Foundation, Inc. (AAMD) initiated a project to create maps for AAMD members that document community-based partnerships. The Mapping Project allows museums--many for the first time--to visually document and disseminate information that reflects the great number and wide variety of organizations with which they partner to serve the public. Combined with relevant statistics, census data, and explanatory text, the maps allow AAMD museums to analyze their presence in various city, county and state jurisdictions and make programming decisions accordingly. Providing an effective means of communicating each museum’s service, importance, and value to stakeholders and funders is perhaps the most essential benefit of the Mapping Project.

“We use these maps constantly in conversations with high-net worth individuals,” notes Susan Edwards, director of the Frist Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “They provide the perfect closure and a concrete synopsis of a strong narrative from an impassioned advocate, whether the encounter occurs in person, on the telephone, or through the mail.”

A 2011 NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $35,000 will allow AAMD to continue the Mapping Project and complete customized maps and reports for all member museums that provide information on their educational and economic partners. The grant will also allow for updates to be made from the 2010 U.S. Census and for a greater analysis of data, particularly in the calculation of the number and types of schools served by AAMD museums nationwide. Reports will be published online, and technical assistance will be provided to other organizations that wish to undertake similar projects. In addition, the association plans to share its findings and techniques at non-AAMD conferences of arts organizations throughout the year.

The Mapping Project, under the direction of Andy Finch, is one of many tools AAMD is using to achieve its mission of increasing the contribution of arts museums to society and of serving the museum field beyond its immediate membership. Since its founding in 1916, the Association has taken an active role in shaping public discourse about the arts community by serving as a forum for the exchange of information and as an advocate for its members, of which there are currently 193.