Essential Aspects of Managing an Art Museum

Art museums are more than just beautiful spaces housing priceless works of art. They are cultural institutions that educate, inspire, and engage local and international communities. However, running an art museum requires much more than having a stunning art collection. It involves a team of professionals who understand the complexities of managing a cultural institution, from overseeing artworks to ensuring visitor experiences are top-notch. Choosing the right team of professionals is critical for any art museum – a small gallery or a large institution with multiple collections. Staffing an art museum can be challenging, but with the proper guidance and knowledge, museum management can successfully recruit and employ the right professionals. Hiring the right talent can result in a smooth-running museum that can preserve and celebrate art for generations. This article will explore best practices for museum management regarding staffing and organizing personnel. We delve into how a museum manager can recruit, train, and adequately outfit their museum with the right professionals. By understanding the critical roles within an art museum, the challenges that arise, and the solutions to overcome them, museum management can effectively lead their team of professionals toward success.

Temperature Control

Ensuring proper temperature control within a museum is essential to art museum management. The temperature has to be at an optimal level to prevent any damage to the artwork that is displayed. Air and heating are two significant components of controlling the temperature within the museum. Many art collectors would know how damaging fluctuations in temperature could be to artworks. As such, museum management needs to control the ambient temperature to ensure that the paintings are adequately preserved and protected. When it comes to air, the quality and movement of the air within the museum are equally critical. The air quality can affect the longevity and overall integrity of the displayed artworks. Hence, it is crucial to maintain it at the right level. In addition to air quality, heating is essential to museum temperature control. Heat sources, temperature fluctuations, and incorrect humidity levels can all adversely affect the artwork. So a proper HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system should be in place. Museum managers must, therefore, work with HVAC professionals to ensure that the museum’s heating and air-conditioning systems are functioning correctly. A well-maintained system can lead to more energy-efficient climate control within the museum and reduce costs.

Pest Prevention

In addition to temperature control, effective pest prevention is equally critical for any art museum. Excessive light exposure, changes in temperature levels, and inadequately stored artwork can attract pests, making pest prevention a crucial aspect of art museum management. Numerous stakeholders work together to address pest infestations within the museum. However, sometimes the problem can manifest beyond the control of the museum team. In such circumstances, it is necessary to engage pest exterminators. Engaging pest exterminators may cause temporary disruption within the museum. However, when infestations are detected, it is imperative to address them quickly to avoid costly and extensive damage to the artwork. Exterminators can provide expert and efficient solutions to keep pests at bay. Aside from using pest exterminators, it is essential to take preventative measures to prevent infestations. Maintenance of the museum’s temperature is an excellent starting point to prevent pests like moths, flies, beetles, and cockroaches from developing in the environment. Additionally, implementing storage policies, such as carefully secured archival containers or proper shelving, can also help reduce the likelihood of pest infestations.


When it comes to the financial management of an art museum, having an experienced bookkeeper is critical to ensure that the museum operates within its budgets and policies. The bookkeeper is responsible for various tasks, such as preparing financial reports, performing audits, and maintaining the museum’s accounting systems. The hiring process can be challenging when recruiting a professional bookkeeper for an art museum. Museum management must be diligent in finding the right candidate. It’s essential to look for someone who has experience working within a museum environment and is familiar with the specifics of non-profit accounting. Having a background in accounting and experience with museum financial policies and regulations is an added advantage. A bookkeeper with such qualifications is more likely to be able to handle the financial complexities involved in art museum management. A good bookkeeper should also be comfortable with technology and software used for accounting purposes, including accounting software such as QuickBooks. It shows they have the necessary skills to provide accurate financial data analyses and recommendations for budgeting and forecasting. Regarding the interview process, it is essential to inquire about the bookkeeper’s experience and qualifications. Art museums must also check references and verify the bookkeeper’s qualifications and experience. With the right bookkeeper in place, museum management can focus on curating compelling art while the bookkeeper ensures the financial aspect of the museum is in order.

Protecting Art

When protecting artwork in an art museum, having waterproof frames is critical. Moisture is one of the most significant culprits that can damage art. When paintings are not adequately covered, water can damage them, leading to mold and decay. Therefore, protecting them with waterproof material is essential. Most frames used in art museums are made of wood, which often requires a significant investment in preserving their condition. Wood frames can expand, warp, or contract in moist environments, causing them to become loose over time. Many conservationists have switched to using aluminum, steel, or other non-organic materials less susceptible to moisture damage to prevent such damage. Using materials that do not absorb moisture is vital in preserving the artwork’s condition on display. Another critical step in protecting artwork is ensuring the museum has an effective art protection plan. Such a plan outlines the procedures and policies for protecting the artwork from damage. It includes instructions on handling and storing the paintings and measures to take in case of natural disasters, theft, or any other contingency. A practical art protection plan should cover all aspects of art museum management, from temperature control and pest prevention to installing security measures such as alarms and CCTV cameras. The program should be comprehensive and reflect the unique needs of each museum.

Maintaining the Building

Maintaining a museum building is a considerable responsibility for art museum management. With so much valuable artwork on display, the building must be kept in excellent shape to protect the paintings from exposure to the elements. The exterior of the building must withstand the harsh weather conditions brought by various seasons, such as heat, rain, snow, and wind. One of the critical parts of maintaining a museum building is to have a reliable roofing system. A good roof is essential in any building, especially an art museum. It keeps the water out, and a properly maintained and insulated roof helps regulate temperature and humidity levels, which is critical for artwork preservation. Art museums have different roofing systems; some have flat roofs, while others have pitched roofs. Irrespective of the design, art museum management must work with professional roofing contractors to ensure their roofing system is well-maintained. Regular inspections and maintenance, such as cleaning and repairing leaks or cracks, can prevent costly damages that could lead to the museum’s closure. In addition to roofing services, art museum management must prioritize the maintenance of other systems in the building, such as electrical systems, plumbing fixtures, and HVAC systems. The grounds surrounding the museum must also be maintained, ensuring trees and greenery are well-kept to prevent hazardous debris.

Keeping Things Clean

Maintaining cleanliness is another crucial aspect of art museum management. Clean museum space is essential for creating a welcoming and safe environment for visitors. Dust, dirt, and other debris can compromise the integrity of the artwork on display. A poorly maintained museum space can result in an unattractive, dusty, and damp environment, which must adequately showcase the artworks. Art museum management must prioritize the cleanliness of the space and keep a regular cleaning schedule. The museum’s floors are a prominent feature that requires regular cleaning, especially in high-traffic areas. Dirt and grime can accumulate on the flooring over time, affecting the museum’s overall aesthetics and hygiene. Calling professional tile cleaners and flooring cleaners is essential in keeping the floors looking clean and maintained. Tile cleaning is also an essential aspect of museum cleaning. Over time, tiles’ grout can become discolored and dingy, making the museum’s space appear dirty and uncared for. Professional tile cleaning services can help keep the tiles looking clean, hygienic, and well-maintained. In addition to professional cleaning services, museum management should invest in high-quality cleaning equipment to keep the museum’s space clean. Art museums must maintain a hygienic space, especially in high-traffic areas, such as restrooms, exhibition spaces, and cafes.

Maintaining Outdoor Features

Maintaining outdoor features is another important aspect of art museum management. Many museums have outdoor installations, gardens, and other landscaping features, making the art display a more immersive experience for visitors. These features require regular maintenance to remain in good condition and keep the visitor’s approach to the museum aesthetic engaging. One common outdoor feature found in many art museums is a gazebo installation. These installations are often used for outdoor events and provide a beautiful backdrop for various art displays. Although the building may be considered a permanent feature, it still requires regular maintenance to remain in good condition. Gazebo installations require regular cleanings, such as removing debris and dusting, to avoid affecting the integrity of the artwork. Moreover, wood panels and other wooden parts used in gazebo installations may require staining or painting to maintain their integrity and prevent water damage. The grounds surrounding the museum must also be well-maintained to provide visitors with an immersive experience that showcases the art displays to their fullest extent. Maintaining the garden and landscape features requires regular watering, trimming, and mowing to keep the grounds healthy and appealing to visitors.

Protecting Art From UV Rays

Art museums house a vast collection of artwork sensitive to UV rays. Exposure to intense UV rays can cause surface discoloration, fading, and deterioration of the painting. Therefore, art museum management must implement measures that protect the artwork from harmful UV rays. One common way of protecting the artwork within the museum is by using window treatments and tints. UV rays from sunlight can penetrate through the windows and cause significant damage to the artwork exposed to direct sunlight. Installing window treatments and shades can help block these UV rays from entering the museum space, thus, protecting the paintings from potential damage. Different window treatments include UV-blocking film or glazing, window blinds, and drapes. These treatments can be applied to windows to reduce the amount of light admitted into the museum space and significantly reduce the amount of UV radiation transmitted through the glass. Furthermore, museum management can use specialist tints specifically designed to reduce the amount of incoming UV radiation. UV tints help mitigate direct sunlight, which can harm artwork. This film is usually applied to the inner side of the windows, maintaining the facade’s aesthetics while ensuring that the artwork is well protected.

Creating Emergency Protocols

Creating emergency protocols is a critical aspect of art museum management. One essential aspect of emergency protocols is power outages. Power outages can occur for several reasons, such as natural disasters, equipment malfunctions, or other unforeseen emergencies. When power outages occur, artworks can be put at risk, and exhibit lights and alarms may not function correctly. Art museum management must have an emergency power solution to mitigate the risks involved with power outages. This power solution usually includes emergency generators. Emergency generators provide backup power to the museum, ensuring that the museum remains operational and that the artworks are not at risk due to power outages. Art museum management must regularly maintain emergency generators to ensure they are working correctly and ready to use if necessary. Regular generator maintenance can help prevent unexpected generator failures and disruptions to the museum’s operations. Creating emergency protocols is also necessary because it gives staff and visitors guidelines on behavior during an emergency. These protocols should include procedures to follow during natural disasters, fire, or other unforeseen emergencies.

Managing Inventory

Art museum management is responsible for properly storing and managing artworks that may not be displayed. This inventory includes paintings waiting for exhibition and those being deaccessioned from the museum’s collection. A well-organized inventory system is essential in managing these artworks, ensuring their safety, and preserving their integrity. Managing inventory can be challenging, especially if the artwork is large or heavy. Moving such paintings requires specialized equipment, such as forklifts, essential for transporting and storing the artwork. Art museum management may need access to forklifts as this equipment can be expensive and take up significant storage space. Many choose forklift rental when required instead. Forklift rentals allow art museums to use high-quality equipment without the financial burden of purchasing them. The rental company typically provides maintenance and repair services, ensuring the forklifts are in good condition. Forklift rentals are beneficial in that they are versatile and can quickly move heavy artwork in tight spaces, small corridors, and elevators. This versatility helps art museum management safely transport works of art to their proper storage location without causing any damage. Art museum management can be challenging, with various aspects to consider, from the proper care and maintenance of artworks to ensuring the safety of visitors and staff. By consulting with the right professionals, such as conservationists, roofing contractors, and emergency protocol specialists, art museum management can overcome these challenges and thrive.