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Magnetic Museums Book Released

Children's Museum Pittsburgh One of Five Museums Featured

WASHINGTON, D.C. - For museums to attract the human, social, and financial capital necessary to thrive rather than just survive, they must become “magnetic.” That is both the premise and the objective of an insightful new book, Magnetic: The Art and Science of Engagement (The AAM Press, May 2013). Authors and museum thought leaders Anne Bergeron and Beth Tuttle offer an accessible guide for readers that is the result of three years of study to identify the “secret sauce” driving the success of a group of high-performing American museums. Magnetic is an invaluable read for those looking to create a more vital, relevant, and connected organization, and is a prerequisite for current and aspiring museum leaders and their boards.

Magnetic: the Art and Science of Engagement, published by The AAM Press, is available through the American Alliance of Museums Bookstore, color illustrations, soft cover, $34.95 retail, $29.95

Magnetic explores the transformative power of investing in personal relationships, forging emotional connections, and creating meaningful experiences. It explains how doing so can radically propel organizations into high-performance businesses that enrich and strengthen their internal and external communities. The authors offer a framework for museums and other organizations in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors to become “magnetic” through a commitment to serve, engage, and empower others.

Magnetic is based on a study of six high performing museums identified by the authors through an analysis of quantitative performance metrics of a decade’s worth of data (2000 to 2010) from hundreds of U.S. institutions. It also combines first-hand case-study observations with insights gleaned from a wide-ranging synthesis of learning from the literature on leadership development and management excellence, trends in corporate talent management and customer service, and the best thinking on social innovation and nonprofit mission impact.

The featured museums are Children’s Museum Pittsburgh; the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va.; Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, Fishers, Ind.; The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pa; Natural Science Center of Greensboro, N.C. (now Greensboro Science Center); and Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Okla.

The study found that these museums have become much more than simply keepers of cultural heritage or places of informal learning—they also have become vital players in the social, civic, and economic vibrancy of their communities. Bergeron, associate director of external affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art, and Tuttle, president and CEO of the Cultural Data Project, both have deep experience as professionals and consultants in the arts and cultural sectors, which drew them to study museums. But they believe that the lessons on becoming “magnetic” are applicable to all mission-driven organizations and businesses whose success relies on forging powerful and lasting relationships with their customers and communities.

“This book shares the stories of museums that have experienced superior business results by virtue of turning up the emotional heat, tapping into the power of creating meaning, and purposefully becoming more relevant to their communities,” said Tuttle. “Because all organizations need people to accomplish their goals, we believe that every for-profit or nonprofit business can learn lesson from these magnetic museums.”

The authors identify a set of six straightforward practices that make organizations magnetic:
· Building Core Alignment
· Embracing 360 Engagement
· Empowering Others
· Widening the Circle and Inviting the Outside In
· Becoming Essential
· Building Trust through High Performance

“The key to ‘magnetism’—having the ability to attract and retain the social, brand, reputational, and financial capital that allows organizations to thrive,” said Bergeron, “is engaging in each of these practices simultaneously. And they can be effectively applied to diverse business models, as we learned from our case study museums.” Moving beyond social media and participatory audience and customer engagement techniques, Magnetic delves deeply into the emotional drivers that inspire loyalty, ignite passionate belief, and empower action among leaders, staffs, boards, audiences, customers, and community influencers.

With an entertaining, story-driven narrative style, Bergeron and Tuttle engage readers with practical insights, tips, and action steps that all organizations can embrace to deliver ‘triple bottom-line” dividends in the areas of people, performance and proceeds.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. With more than 18,000 individual, 3,000 institutional and 300 corporate members, the Alliance is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Dewey Blanton
American Alliance of Museums

Beth Tuttle