Museum Interpretation Initiative

Museum Resources

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Utah Organizations
Museum Professional Associations & Networking Opportunities
Grant Sources
Museum Courses and Training Opportunities
Performance Standards and Assessment Programs
Museum Ethics
Organizational Operations
Digital Assistance and Tech Resources
Collections Management
Preventive Conservation
Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery
Exhibits and Interpretation
Exhibit and Storage Supplies
Education Resources

Visitor Services / Audience Evaluation
Research Resources for Utah
Research Resources National
Blogs and Social Networking

Utah Organizations

Utah Humanities Council (UHC)
Non-profit organization that empowers Utahns to improve their communities through active engagement in the humanities. UHC offers grants for a variety of projects (including museum interpretation and oral history), workshops to learn how to tell your museum's stories, as well as touring exhibitions from the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program. UHC is home to the Utah's Museum Interpretation Initiative program, with curriculum, resources, and examples of exhibit projects accomplished by small museums all over the state.

Utah Division of Arts and Museums (UA&M)
State services agency that offers technical assistance, professional development, the Utah Certificate of Museum Practice (with UMA), museum grants, the Utah Certified Museum registry, state performance goals, research on Utah museums, and special events. Sign up for electronic newsletter.

Utah Division of State History
Provides historic consultation, an annual conference, grants, historical research library, and amazing online historical resources.

Utah Division of Archives & Records Service
Manages records created by state and local government in Utah, including historic records. Occasional grants for historical records care and digitization.

Utah Heritage Foundation
Non-profit that works to preserve historical buildings through education, public awareness, and resources.

Utah Nonprofits Association (UNA)
Provides workshops around the state on a variety of nonprofit topics, consultant list, annual conference, and a job board for all Utah nonprofits. Museums and arts organizations receive discounts on workshops. Membership has additional benefits and discounts.

Utah Cultural Alliance (UCA)
Sponsors panel discussions, advocacy, and legislative forums for Utah’s cultural organizations. Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Now Playing Utah
Provides free publicity for museums and special events.

Museum Professional Associations & Networking Opportunities

Utah Museums Association (UMA)
Membership organization that connects museums to professional resources and best practice, and serves as an advocate for Utah museums. Professional development opportunities available at annual conference each October, at occasional regional workshops, and networking events. Stay connected through website, electronic newsletter, and Facebook page.

Utah Small Museum Interest Group
The Small Utah Museums group provides support and networking opportunities to leaders, staff, and volunteers involved with small museums in Utah. Organized through the Utah Museums Association.

Utah Emerging Museum Professionals
Utah Emerging Museum Professions (UTEMP) is a branch of the Emerging Museum Professionals group of the American Association of Museums. UTEMP is for those who have been in the museum field for less than 10 years.

Western Museums Association (WMA)
Membership organization that conducts annual conference each autumn for western states museums.

American Alliance of Museums (AAM)
National membership organization with annual conference each spring, as well as publications, and many resources for the museum sector.

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)
National membership organization that is an excellent source of information for small museums and historic sites, including StEPS self-assessment program, technical leaflets, online training and workshops, as well as annual conference in the fall. Connect to AASLH affinity groups including Small Museums, Visitor Voices, and others.

Small Museums Online Community
Affinity group for small museums through AASLH.

Small Museum Association (SMA)
National organization for small museums.

American Association of Museum Volunteers (AAMV) 
Affiliated with AAM and presents standards for museum volunteer programs. Stay connected with their resources through quarterly newsletter.

Grant Sources

Utah Humanities Council
Grants for museum interpretation, oral history, and other humanities projects.

Utah Division of Arts and Museums
Grants for museum development and general project support.

Utah Division of State History
Grants for cemetery inventory, capital project, and CLG heritage projects.

Utah Division of Archives & Records Service
Grants for historical records conservation.

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Grants and links to online resources. Thanks to IMLS for funding the Museum Interpretation Initiative.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
Grants for collections care and preservation, exhibits, education programs, and digitization.

Museum Courses and Training Opportunities

Utah Humanities Council Museum Interpretation Initiative
This workshop program assists staff and volunteers at Utah’s small museums tell the stories of their collections and communities. Contact Megan van Frank at

Connecting to Collections On-line Community
Free live webinars and archived webinar recordings, resource lists, discussion forums. Partnership with IMLS, Heritage Preservation, AASLH.

Southern Utah University offers a minor in museum studies and an online MA of Arts Administration. Contact Reece Summers at

Brigham Young University offers museum studies certificate to its MA students. Contact Paul Stavast at

Small Museum Pro  
Online certification program designed specifically for those working in small community museums.

Northern States Conservation Center
Provides collection care services and offers a plethora of online museum classes.

Campbell Center
Offers courses in collections care, historic preservation, and conservation. Located in Illinois. Tuition for most courses includes lodging and meals.

Northeast Document Conservation Center
Specializes in preservation of paper-based materials and digitization. Free resources, leaflets, live webinars, as well as assessments and training. 

Performance Standards and Assessment Programs

Certified Utah Museum Registry
Utah museums complete and submit the registration form every two years indicating compliance with basic requirements. Museums must have current Utah Certified Museum status to be eligible for Utah Arts & Museum grants, to participate in annual survey of Utah museums, and to receive a discount on the required State charitable solicitation permit.

State Performance Goals for Utah Museums
Provides a set of goals in an effort to raise the performance level, professionalism, and quality of Utah museums.

Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPS) is a voluntary assessment program for small- and mid-sized history organizations that encourages awareness and achievement of national standards.

AAM Continuum of Excellence
AAM’s Continuum of Excellence provides multiple entry points and customized assistance for museums of all sizes to reach higher levels of professionalism.

Museum Assessment Program (MAP)
Helps small and mid-sized museums strengthen operations, plan for the future and meet national standards through self-study and a site visit from a peer reviewer. MAP grants provide $4,000 of consultative resources and services to participating museums.

Conservation Assessment Program (CAP)
Heritage Preservation (the National Institute for Conservation) provides noncompetitive grants for small and mid-sized museums to conduct general conservation assessments of their sites and collections.

Museum Ethics

International Council of Museums
ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums sets minimum standards of professional practice and performance for museums and their staff internationally.

American Alliance of Museums
The AAM Code of Ethics for Museums establishes the basic set of values that should guide American museums, from governance to collections and programs.

Utah Nonprofit Association
The UNA Standards of Ethics is a good starting place for all Utah nonprofit organizations.


Small Museums Cataloging Manual
Downloadable manual - Appendix 3 Glossary of Descriptive Terms; Appendix 4 Glossary of Production Methods; Appendix 5 Glossary of Materials.

Museum Registration Methods 5th Edition
Bible of the museum registrar written by Rebecca Buck and Jean Gilmore ($89.95) has a good museum terms glossary starting on page 473.

National Association of Interpretation Definitions
Offers definitions of common terminology used by interpreters, environmental educators, historians, and others in non-formal settings such as parks, aquariums, zoos, nature centers, historic sites, and museums. Downloadable pdf file. 

ICOM Code of Ethics Glossary

National Digital Stewardship Alliance Glossary

Organizational Operations

Small Museum Toolkit
Set of six books from Alta Mira Press: Book One – Leadership, Mission, and Governance; Book Two – Financial Resource Development and Management; Book Three – Organizational Management; Book Four – Reaching and Responding to the Audience; Book Five – Interpretation: Education, Programs, and Exhibits; Book Six – Stewardship: Collections and Historic Preservation

Board Source
Nonprofit boards play a critical role in overseeing their organization's mission, finance, and strategic direction. Find trainings, online publications, and other resources (many of them free) to help your museum. 

Best Practices for Museum Volunteer Programs

Leadership 2.0 by Travis Bradbury and Jean Greaves available through various online sources.

Thinking about Starting a Museum?
A discussion guide and workbook on museums and heritage projects from Museums Alberta that provides an overview of museum functions and required resources, as well as tools for identifying goals and needs.

Digital Assistance and Tech Resources

Connecting to Collections On-line Community  
See the “Caring for Digital Materials” course.

Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative

Mountain West Digital Library 
A central hub for digital collections of the intermountain west. Want to get your museum’s collections online? Need advice or help digitizing your collection archives, photographs, or audio/video resources? Contact Sandra McIntyre, Director of MWDL at  

Museum Archive Software Project (Musarch)
Free collections management software designed specifically for small history museums.

Collections software available for purchase with some organizational discounts.

Collective Access
Open source web-based software to catalog, manage, and publish museum collections online.

Freeware for online exhibits.

Free web-hosting service for non-profits.

Free website design software used by millions.

Open Office
Open source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and more.

Tech Soup
Standard software at reduced prices for nonprofits.

Vertical Response
Free email services, email marketing guides and templates.

Collections Management

Museums & Galleries NSW
Policy templates, fact sheets and technical information geared to small museums on collection management, conservation, storage, and many other issues. Write that Collections Policy now!

Museums Australia Victoria
Resources specifically for small museums, including collections policy template, interpretive policy template, and information sheets on variety of topics.

Small Museums Cataloging Manual
An excellent resource designed specifically for small museums about how to register and catalog collections.

Significance Assessment
Significance assessment is a terrific roadmap for research and a tool for going beyond descriptive cataloging to establish the meaning of an object and make a judgment about why it is important.

ICOM’s International Committee for Documentation 
Provides museum community with advice on good practice and developments in museum documentation. See specific guidelines at    

Museum Registration Methods 5th Edition
Bible of the museum registrar written by Rebecca Buck and Jean Gilmore ($89.95) available through AAM.

Preventive Conservation

reCollections: Caring for Collections Across Australia
Written by practicing conservators and intended to provide a sound guide for the preventive care of cultural items.

Deteriora and the Agents of Destruction
Graphic novel from the Local History Services folks in Indiana (those Hoosiers!)  Try this fun way to learn about preventive conservation of collections!

Connecting to Collections On-line Community  
Partnership with IMLS, Heritage Preservation, AASLH. Free live webinars and archived webinar recordings, resource lists, discussion forums on preventive conservation, among other topics.

American Institute for Conservation (AIC)
Resources on how to find a conservator, how to care for treasures, frequently asked questions.

Canadian Conservation Institute
Information on how to preserve and care for many object types and links to many preservation sites.

Conservation Center for Art and Historical Artifacts

Department of the Interior Museum Program
Offers the Museum Property Handbook Volume I: Preservation and Protection of Museum Property and Museum Property Handbook Volume II: Documentation of Museum Property. Home of the classic NPS ConservOGrams brochures on collections care from the National Park Service

Heritage Preservation: National Institute for Conservation
Provides online and printed resources on collections care, emergency response, and CAP program.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
Has links to sources for care of specific items.

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC)  

CoOL (Conservation OnLine)
Full text library of information covering a wide range of conservation topics.

Costume Society of America (CSA)  
CSA Angels project organizes volunteer textile experts to help save endangered clothing collections.

Packing, art handling and collection care info network.

LDS Church History Preserving History Instructional Videos
Series of short videos with advice about preserving documents and objects using simple methods. Can also ask a conservator specific questions at email 

Art Restoration – Pioneer Art  
Scott M. Haskins is a Utah-based professional contract conservator willing to consult with small museums regarding preservation and conservation.  His book How to Save your Stuff from a Disaster has simple instructions to protect and preserve geared toward personal collections.

Timeless Textiles
Jennifer Hadley, Utah based textiles conservator, offers conservation, preservation, exhibition and research consultant services.

Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery

Western States & Territories Preservation Assistance Service (WESTPAS)

Offers emergency disaster assistance, classes on disaster planning and preservation grant writing. Local contact is Randy Silverman, Preservation Librarian at Marriott Library, University of Utah, 801.585.6782.

American Institute for Conservation
Offers disaster response and recovery information, including “Emergency: If You’re First” guide.

National Institute for Conservation
Provides online and printed resources on collections care, emergency response, and CAP program. Also home to the Heritage Preservation Emergency Task Force, which offers publications on preservation and disaster response and salvage wheel.

Minnesota Historical Society

NPS Museum Management Program
Publications on preservation and disaster response for cultural heritage from the National Park Service.

Exhibits and Interpretation

Alaska State Museums Bulletin Newsletter
Great range of information on many topics geared to small museums. Issues from 1998 and 1999 provide basic techniques for writing, making, and mounting exhibit labels.  

Exhibit Makeovers  
Book by Alice Parman. Downloadable worksheets from her book and opportunity to purchase it.

Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach 
Book by Beverly Serrell available through AAM.

Everyone's Welcome: The Americans with Disabilities Act and Museums
Book by John Salmen on how to make museums and exhibits compliant with ADA.

John Veverka & Associates Interpretive Consultants 
Great resource for interpretive planning, training, and evaluation.

National Association of Interpretation 

Insight Exhibits
Utah based exhibition design and construction services.

Exhibit and Storage Supplies

Archival Exhibit and Storage Supplies
Gaylord Brothers
University Products
Hollinger Metal Edge

Cases, Mounts, Display Furniture
Acrylic Cases
Advance Displays & Store Fixtures (Utah based) 
Display Furniture and Stands
Hy-Glo (Utah based)
Modern Display (Utah based) 

Custom Printing, Posters, Signage
Life-Size Cardboard Cutouts  

Education Resources 

The Participatory Museum  
Book by Nina Simon available for purchase and download through her website.

The Good Guide: A Sourcebook for Interpreters, Docents, and Tour Guides
Book by Alison L. Grinder and E. Sue McCoy. Out of print but available used through various online booksellers.

Columbia Center for Oral History

Free Sounds 

Journal of Museum Education

Museum Ed – Connecting the Museum Educator Community 
Docent Training materials submitted to Museum Ed from a variety of museums.

National Park Service: Teaching with Historic Places
Free classroom-ready lesson plans on a large variety of topics.

Smithsonian Education

Utah State Core Curriculum

Art of Storytelling Show 

National Storytelling Network

The Moth 

Society for Storytelling  


Visitor Services / Audience Evaluation  

Visitor Studies Association

Visitors Count
AASLHvisitor survey instruments.

Visitors’ Voices Affinity Group
Affinity group through AASLH with quarterly e-newsletter (you do not need to be a member of AASLH to participate).

Randi Korn & Associates
Check out the Resources section for publications, case studies, and learning about the broader role of evaluation in museums.

Making the Case for Visitor Studies and Evaluation

Judging Exhibitions: A Framework for Assessing Excellence

Research Resources for Utah  

Brigham Young University Digital Library  

Brigham Young University Special Collections

Dixie State University Special Collections

International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers 

LDS Church History Library and Archives 

Mormon Historic Sites Foundation 

Mormon Migration

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel

Mountain West Digital Library

Pioneer, Utah’s Online Library

Salt Lake County Archives

Southern Utah University Special Collections

University of Utah Digital Library

University of Utah Main Library

University of Utah Special Collections

Utah American Indian Digital Archive

Utah Artists Project

Utah Collections Multimedia Encyclopedia

Utah Digital Newspapers

Utah Division of Archives & Records Service

Utah Division of State History Research Center

Utah Government Publications Online

Utah Historical Quarterly

Utah History Encyclopedia

Utah State History to Go

Utah State Library   

Utah State University Digital Library

Utah State University Special Collections and Archives

Utah Valley University Library

Weber State University Archives and Special Collections 

Weber State University Special Collections

Weber State University Digital Collections

Research Resources National  

Family Search

Family History Library Catalog
Federal census, voter lists, military records, immigration, etc. Access to some databases requires a subscription.

Census Finder
Directory of free Census Records.

Google Scholar 
Search for patents, legal documents, scholarly articles, etc.

History Detectives

National Register of Historic Places

NARA - National Archives and Records Administration

Library of Congress Catalog

Chronicling America - Library of Congress
Digitized newspapers.

USGenWeb Project 
Links to State and County records.

USGenWeb Archives 
Record transcriptions.

Find a Grave 
Cemetery records with links to other information.

Google Guide
Tutorial for effective Google searches.

Blogs and Social Networking  

Utah Small Museum Interest Group  
The Small Utah Museums group provides support and networking opportunities to leaders, staff, and volunteers involved with small museums in Utah. Organized through the Utah Museums Association. Facebook:

Utah Emerging Museum Professionals    
Utah Emerging Museum Professions (UTEMP) is a branch of the Emerging Museum Professionals group of the American Association of Museums. UTEMP is for those who have been in the museum field for less than 10 years. Facebook:

Connecting to Collections On-line Community  
Partnership with IMLS, Heritage Preservation, AASLH. Create a free account to join in discussions and receive email at Or follow on Facebook:

Western Museum Association (WMA)
Westmuse Blog: and Facebook: 

American Alliance of Museums (AAM)
Center for the Future of Museums Blog:

American Association of State and Local History (AASLH)

Institute of Museum and Library Services
Up Next - The IMLS Blog:

Small Museum Toolkit

Small Museum Association

Museum 2.0
Nina Simon’s Participatory Museum Blog:

The Uncataloged Museum
Linda Norris Blog:

Thoughts on Heritage Interpretation and Management
Nicole Duefel’s Blog:

On the Lookout for Sticky Ideas
Joanna Fisher’s Blog:

Save Your Stuff 
Scott M. Haskins Blog: