Best practices in the management of a museum

The management of cultural institutions, which is talked about a lot nowadays, goes back a long, long time.  Who doesn’t know the Greek or Roman theatres?  They didn’t function by themselves.  For sure, behind the stages, there were people, the majority often anonymous, who made sure that everything functioned correctly.

And what can be said about museums? Throughout the world there have been teams of people, sometimes more numerous, often rather reduced, often referred to as administration, and now linked to resources, who have carried out the ‘functional’ work.

At the Museu Picasso of Barcelona there are a number of us that work in the administration of the centre.  We could call ourselves the back-office.  Everything from the area of production, maintenance, security, management of the public, management of the services and obviously the economic administration.  Without each of these functions, it would be difficult for the museum to open its doors every day and offer the visitors exhibitions, talks, concerts, and all types of activities linked, in our case, to the life and work of Pablo Picasso, or the neighbourhood in which we are located,  La Ribera.


As part of the basis of our work, I have made a list of the basic concepts which are fundamental for the good running of a museum.  Because, overall, the most important thing for carrying out the task that we are charged with as a museum centre – to collect, conserve and spread, is the fact that the team of people, each at their level, fulfil with the greatest possible efficacy and efficiency their responsibility.

These values are:

1.- Organisation

Tasks defined with balanced work responsibilities, explicit procedures so as to be able to work with security.

2.- Information

Information structured to the maximum so as to enable the decision-making by each and every one of those who work in the museum.  The dynamism of the information, both upward and downward, is a key element in terms of the success of the coordination.

3.- Trust

In the professionalism of the team.  Everyone has to be responsible for their work by searching for mechanisms of self-evaluation, and by being accountable to the person to whom they depend.

4.- Complicity

Those who work in the museum have to feel they are part of the project.  A complicity that isn’t exempt from a critical spirit, thus making sure the project progresses and improves.

5.- Being demanding

In terms of a job well done, towards ourselves, and towards the rest of our colleagues, but above all, oriented towards the citizens, that one way of another, have placed in our hands the legacy of the artist.

6.- Planning

So as to know where we are going and how to get there, both in terms of time and resources.

7.- Teamwork

There is nothing, or almost nothing that can be done alone.  We always need to work in agreement with the rest of our colleagues, both to enrich ourselves, as well as being complementary in collaborating what we can contribute to the projects of the others.


8.- Imagination

Coordination, planning, being demanding… but above all with imagination.  By doing our bit, we can turn the daily routine into something more interesting, enjoyable and different.

9.- Flexibility

Not everything is black or white.  It’s the small details that help us work with others.

10.- Complementarity

No-one is perfect, by definition.  For this reason, what one person doesn’t know, another may know, and where some may not manage to reach, the others may be able to do so!!  It is important to know one’s strengths and weaknesses, and those of the ones we work with!

So far these make up a possible Decalogue of the values which, from my point of view, should be integrated into our day to day work.  It’s not a question of summarising numerous books and courses about museum management, and neither does it aim to invent anything new.  I have just wanted to share with you  these reflections, adding a final point that describes the work I do in the museum.  I understand that management consists of working on fulfilling the Decalogue while at the same time acting as a facilitator so that the ideas become projects, and that these become exhibitions, activities, agreeable spaces, gratifying visits, and all of them signifying a quality contribution to the cultural production of our city.

Núria Fradera

  • Mònica
    January 29, 2010

    un bon llistat de valors. Jo hi afegiria, per exemple, excel·lència i qualitat (van implícits amb el que esmenteu d’exigència, però crec q mereixen menció específica. I polivalència i transversalitat, també tocats de canto pel 10, complementarietat. Crec fonamental avui saber combinar l’especialització amb polivalència: s’ha acabat lo de parcel·les tancades de feina, les fronteres es desdibuixen i es fonen i cal ser aptes en diversos fronts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha: *