The following books and publications are recommended for information on starting a new museum or historical society. A select few are available through the OMA lending library which utilizes the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. All books are available for purchase by clicking on the book title.

From the Ground Up
The American Alliance of Museums online toolkit can be purchased online here 
People wish to start museums for many different reasons, such as the desire to share their passion with others, to preserve treasured objects for future generations, or to influence public opinion or behavior. Starting a museum is a tremendous amount of work, and this toolkit provides a comprehensive guide to the basics of creating, launching, and operating a sustainable museum.

With this toolkit, you will:

  • Learn about the key characteristics of museums
  • Decide whether or not you want to start a museum
  • Learn about becoming a nonprofit
  • Use the tools provided to start your museum

The Field Guide for Museums

Produced by The State Historical Society of Iowa REAP/Historical Resource Development Program (HRDP) with support from the Iowa Museums Association.  2nd ed., 2004
This publication can be downloaded for free.  It is a wonderful resource for all museums, including those in the planning stage and beyond.  The publication is divided into four main sections:  Museum Organization, Registration & Collection Storage, Exhibit Design and Gallery Environmnets, and Museum Related Websites.

Thinking About Starting A Museum:  A Discussion Guide and Workbook on Museums and Heritage Projects

Produced by Museums Alberta, 2003.
This publication can be downloaded for free.  It is a great resource to read when thinking about starting a museum.

A Primer for Local Historical Societies

by Laurence R. Pizer
Revised and expanded from the first edition by Dorothy Weyer Creigh, this guide is essential reading for groups that rely on volunteer labor and a variety of fundraising activities. Discover practical information on organizing, financing, publicity, projects for limited budgets, oral history, site-marketing, and tours. The basic elements for the establishment of historical libraries, the preservation of buildings, restoration, museums, volunteers, and publishing are also covered.

Code of Ethics for Museums

by American Association of Museums
Adopted in November 1993 and revised in 1999 by the AAM Board of Directors, this code provides a framework for developing an institution's own code of ethics and reflects the current, generally understood standards of the museum field. Issues covered include governance, collections, programs, and promulgation.

Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan, 2nd edition

by John M. Bryson and Farnum K. Alston
A step-by-step guide to strategic planning, this second edition is filled with useful tools, including illustrative examples, detailed questionnaires, and easy-to-understand worksheets. It takes users through every step of creating a tailored strategic plan, from concrete guidelines for brainstorming sessions, to developing show cards, to outlining a workshop equipment checklist.

Ideas and Images: Developing Interpretive History Exhibits

edited by Kenneth Ames, Barbara Franco and L. Thomas Frye
Ideas and Images presents eleven case studies, walking you through the process of developing interpretive history exhibits. Learn how to identify and build new audiences, work with consultants and experts, cope with institutional change, present temporary and permanent exhibitions, and experiment with new subjects, design techniques and media.

Introduction to Museum Work

by G. Ellis Burcaw
Long regarded as one the leading and classic texts in museology, Introduction to Museum Work has been thoroughly revised and updated. While citing recent changes in the museum world, this third edition retains its useful philosophical orientation and convenient summary format. All the basics of museology are here. Central issues are discussed and definitions are given for terms museum workers need to know. Each chapter includes practical exercises, making Burcaw's book ideal for the classroom or for novice museum workers.

Museum Administration: An Introduction

by Hugh H. Genoways and Lynne M. Ireland
Wondering what a museum director actually does? About to start your first director's job? Looking for guidance in starting up a museum of working with a museum director? Learn about everything from budgets and strategic planning to human resources and facilities management to collections and programming. Tackle legal documents, legal and ethical issues anc challenges for the modern museum. Case studies and exercises throughout help you review and practice what you are learning and extensive references will be a welcome resource.

Museum Forms Book

Third Edition edited by Kenneth D. Perry
From loan forms to copyright agreements, this compilation of over 400 forms is an important reference book for museum professionals wanting to evaluate and redesign their own record-keeping procedures.

Organizing Your Museum: The Essentials

by Susan Nichols
Practical advice and information for board members, volunteers or staff of new museums. Includes sample bylaws, mission statements, job descriptions, collections management policies and more.

Questioning Assumptions

by Lynn D. Dierking and Wendy Pollack
Research that is done at the very beginning of the planning process is often called "front-end studies." Although they are most often associated with exhibition development, such studies are equally useful in planning programs, marketing campaigns, or entirely new institutions. Based on written reports and interviews with those who implement studies, this book discusses how people learn; their understandings, attitudes, and beliefs; and why they visit museums in the first place.

Registration Methods for the Small Museum

by Daniel B. Reibel
For over twenty years, Registration Methods for the Small Museum has been the definitive guide to registration methodology. The updated third edition responds to varied innovations including the growing importance of computer technology and its uses and implications for the small museum. It presents effective registration techniques for the small museum in a concise, readable manner and provides sample registrar's manuals and forms for immediate use.

Starting Right: A Basic Guide to Museum Planning

by Gerald George and Cindy Sherrell-Leo
Because launching a new museum is a daunting task, you need sound advice. Starting Right is a handbook designed to explain the basics of museum planning in an evening's reading. Free of technical jargon, it defines what a museum is, both philosophically and historically, discusses the pros and cons of establishing a museum, outlines where to get help and proffers advice on all aspects of museums from the choice of a building through collections care, registration, exhibitions, conservation, staffing, financial management and fund raising.

The AAM Guide to Collections Planning

by James B. Gardner and Elizabeth E. Merritt
Every museum should have a clear vision of what it aspires to be, but it may never reach its goal if it can't shape and develop its collections as a whole. This new AAM guide will help your museum create a collections plan, the first step to gaining intellectual control over the collections and ensuring that you have the appropriate staff and resources for collections care.

The New Museum Registration Methods, 5th edition

edited by Rebecca A. Buck and Jean Allman Gilmore
The "bible of museum registrars," updated for the 21st century, with more than 50 all-new chapters covering the complete registration procedure, proper care and storage of objects, collections management, documentation, computerization of records, shipping and handling, insurance, security, ethics and legal issues, and much more.

Museum resources from the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies