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Middle Tennessee Museums See Success with StEPs

by Bethany L. Hawkins on

AASLH received a grant from the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee in the fall of 2011 to create a StEPs (Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations) users group of four historic sites in Middle Tennessee to help move the organizations through the StEPS program. A second and third grant from the same organization over the last four years allowed us to grow the program to nine sites in the Greater Nashville area.

StEPs Middle TN Group

StEPs Middle TN Group

November 2015 marked the end of the grant funding for the group. Although the formal group is ending, the sites felt that working together was valuable enough that they are going to continue on their own. They have planned for quarterly brown bag lunches throughout 2016 to take a deeper dive into the StEPs workbook, specifically focusing on the more advanced Good and Better performance indicators. They also are planning a get-together at the 2016 Tennessee Association of Museums meeting.

The Middle Tennessee StEPs group illustrates the benefits that come with working through the StEPs program as a group. The group model provides support and accountability which prevents the StEPs workbook from becoming just another book on the shelf in your office. The working group model also helps create community within the history community in a particular area (whether geographic or topical).

As a direct result of the Middle Tennessee StEPs working group, the institutions participating have all earned StEPs certificates (with the exception of two new enrollees who just started in July). We are proud to report that a total of nineteen certificates have been earned by this small group of dedicated museums!

Here is a list of the participating museums and their certificates earned during the last four years:

Cookeville History Museum, Cookeville, TN
Management Bronze
Audience Bronze
Audience Silver
Stewardship of Collections Bronze
Interpretation Bronze

Historic Grassmere at the Nashville Zoo, Nashville, TN
Audience Bronze
Interpretation Bronze

Historic Rock Castle, Hendersonville, TN
Audience Bronze
Interpretation Bronze

Mansker’s Station, Goodlettsville, TN
Audience Bronze

Oaklands Mansion, Murfreesboro, TN
Audience Bronze
Stewardship of Collections Bronze
Mission, Vision, and Governance Bronze

Sam Davis Home and Museum, Smyrna, TN
Interpretation Bronze
Audience Bronze
Stewardship of Collections Bronze
Management Bronze

Traveller’s Rest, Nashville, TN
Interpretation Bronze
Stewardship of Collections Bronze

(Belmont Mansion and Historic Granville just started the program and are on their way to earning their first certificates.)

These museums are choosing to work together and improving best practices at their institutions. Who can you partner with to keep your StEPs work on track?

For more information on starting a StEPs working group in your area, contact Cherie Cook at cook@aaslh.org.

Bethany L. Hawkins is the Program Manager for AASLH. She served as staff coordinator for the StEPs Middle Tennessee project.

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