GHM Chosen as StEPs Spotlight by American Association for State and Local History

The Geneva History Museum is proud to have completed all six sections of the AASLH StEPs – Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations – and was chosen as their StEPs Spotlight for a second time.

The Spotlight states, “Sometimes the “big picture” of why we do the work we do can be lost to the daily demands of running an institution. The Geneva History Museum in Geneva, Illinoisstarted the StEPs program in 2014 and since then has worked through each of the six sections, keeping the “big picture” in mind.”

Geneva History Museum Executive Director, Terry Emma wrote, “We set a schedule of regular weekly meetings on Monday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon since the Museum is closed to the public on Mondays. The committee consisted of all staff members and the President of the Board of Directors. All Board members were invited to participate at any time if they wanted to join in the discussion. We used a laptop, projector, and screen to display the pages of the workbook for all to read together. The Executive Director acted as moderator, kept notes from each meeting, and checked off the level of each standard in the workbook. At the end of each section the committee went back through the standards to see where we ranked. Notes were gathered on what needs to be completed to increase the level of standard and who would be responsible for that area.”

“Having the entire staff act as part of the committee raised awareness at all levels of best practices. We were very proud to earn a gold certificate for our level of Interpretation and all involved now have a sense of wanting to make the necessary improvements to resubmit for a higher level in all of the other areas. Our participation in StEPs made us set aside a time to look at the “big picture” of the Geneva History Museum. With a small staff and limited budget, it is easy to get stuck in day-to-day activities and not take the time to plan and set policies and procedures. StEPs gave us a guide to start this process and with our notes from each section, we now have goals for improvement. The StEPs certificates have been framed on a wall in our lobby as a visual for all to know what the museum is doing to better serve the community.”

“Displaying the StEPs certificates and sending press releases out has been a great way to share with the community how our museum ranks from the standards set by a national organization. Sharing our story of meeting each level of performance demonstrates that the Geneva History Museum is dedicated to a continuum of excellence. We have also participated in two Museum Assessment Programs with the American Alliance for Museums. It has been helpful to see similar information develop from both MAP and StEPs to confirm what needs to be done and assist with setting goals.”

“Set regular meeting times so that the workbook doesn’t just sit on your desk collecting dust. Keep notes on why your committee ranked each standard as basic, good or better so you can then make a list of what is needed to be done. When items on your list have been accomplished, go back and review your notes and check the performance indicators to see if you have reached a higher level.” Read the entire article at