What is the ideal mission statement of a museum? To begin to answer this question, I examined websites of nearly 100 air and space museums.
By definition, a museum is a place where objects of value are kept and displayed. Some mission statements are about that simple. Others mission statements include other details explored below.
Artifacts, aircraft, memorabilia. Often of a certain type, in a certain domain, time or place, or service branch. Examples, air traffic control, airliners. Acquire, collect, preserve, restore, maintain, administer, house, safeguard, catalog, chronicle, display, exhibit, share.
Who forms the organization? Volunteers? Veterans? The public? Some more narrowly defined group? Non-profit?
Who does the museum commemorate? Other words: honor, eternalize.
Who does the museum benefit? Students, schools, future generations, youth, community, outreach, “of all ages”.
Some museum mission statements specify a geographic area: city, region, state, country (10% +/-). Some museums exist in or because of a historic building.
Some collections are organized around a specific war or time period (5% +/-). Some mission statements specify when the collection began, which helps explain the context and answer the question, “Why?” (5% +/-).
Preserve, educate, dream, inspire, honor, motivate, challenge, pride, prestige, encourage, enjoy, excitement, love, spirit.
Of the 90+ websites surveyed, only a handful had a page titled “Mission.” Some mission statements explicitly use the term mission. Other words: purpose, dedicated.
Some put their mission statement on their home page, some on their “about us” page. In cases where the mission statement was on a page other than the home page, I linked to it. Little metadata about the mission statement is available. It would be useful to know when it was written and by whom, and when updated and how.
Some mission statements were just one sentence, others had a bullet list or enumerated list. A few were of greater length. I used some discretion about what part of a page I excerpted as a mission statement if it was not explicitly titled. If it is explicitly titled, I included the title.
An ideal mission statement is a thorough one that includes all these elements. Some useful comparisons may be drawn from the Periodic Chart of Organizations.