Strategic Plan and Annual Report
Annual Report – 2015-2016
Like many cultural institutions, the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology was affected by the financial crisis that occurred in the first decade of the 21stst century. Although many museums could not weather the fiscal storm and had to close their doors, the Peabody had the benefit of the thoughtful leadership and innovative educators at its parent institution, Phillips Academy, as well as creative and resourceful personnel within its ranks to see it through that difficult time.
The Peabody emerged from the fiscal crisis with a new vision, one that sought to connect educators, scholars, students, and Native Americans through its significant collections and the stories those collections had to tell. Today at the Peabody, students thoughtfully confront the fraught history that has inexorably linked European, American, and Native American histories; they throw spears with an atlatl; they make pottery alongside contemporary Pueblo artists; they wrestle with statistics by analyzing ancient sherds; and they learn through observation and hands-on activities. What’s even more unusual and exciting about today’s Peabody is that these are talented and gifted high school students actively engaged in collaborative learning.
The next five years represent an opportunity for us to refine, assess, and optimize our vision for this great cultural institution. Gaining increased physical and intellectual control of our collections is a major focus for us as we move forward. Additional priorities are to strengthen our relationship with Native American communities and continue to focus on collaborative learning, particularly in the development of tools to assess our programs. In addition to these opportunities, however, the next five years will also present challenges. For example, how do we share what we are doing with people and communities beyond Phillips Academy? How do we build a broader base of support and buttress our endowment? The Peabody faced a crisis some 13 years ago and emerged as a new kind of museum. This strategic plan charts the museum’s course for the next five years and explores ways to celebrate our vision and connect with communities beyond Andover.
The Peabody’s 2015–2020 strategic plan focuses on four primary and four supporting themes, each with specific goals related to the museum’s vision, mission, and core values. Central to each theme is engagement with students, as the museum’s vision and mission explicitly state.
Partnerships, both within and beyond the Andover community, play a significant role in each element of the plan. In the paragraphs that follow, we discuss each theme in terms of sustainable goals as well as best practices, governance, development, branding, and strategies.
Collaborative Learning is at the core of the Peabody’s curricular offerings, which include a host of mini lessons taught in conjunction with faculty across disciplines, as well as signature programs such as work duty and off-campus learning.
Improving both physical and intellectual control over the paper, photographic, and object collections is a central focus within the Collections Stewardship theme. This theme is important, as reflected in our vision statement, since the Peabody’s collections are the inspiration for much of our educational programming and provide a link to the broader world of archaeologists, scholars, Native Americans, and researchers. Adding to the importance of this theme is the fact that our collections storage systems have not been upgraded in recent years. As a result, many of our assets are being stored in areas that are not intended to house collections and therefore limit the use of the building.
The Decolonizing Museums theme reflects the Peabody’s long history of transcending the legal obligations of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and forging positive relationships with contemporary Native American communities. This theme provides a theory and method for framing our engagement with modern indigenous people.
Sustainable Outreach encompasses engagement with the Andover community as well as the broader world. Supporting themes include Governance, Development, Major Projects/Facility Needs, and Communication and Alumni Engagement. Many of these themes intersect, emphasizing the integration of our vision, mission, and programs.
The museum’s goals reflect our desire to make what we do more visible at Andover and beyond. This involves technology that enables us to share our collections online, as well as reimagining the way we use space within the building itself. In most cases we are not introducing new undertakings; rather, we are formally identifying what we are doing now, what is important, and how we can more efficiently and effectively engage with the educators and learners at Andover and beyond. Much of this plan is predicated on understanding and remaining true to the vision that the museum’s founder, Robert S. Peabody, articulated more than 100 years ago: the desire to establish a center for use by students, a program that brings archaeology and anthropology to the classroom, and a hub for research.
Overall, at the end of five years, the Peabody will have achieved the following:
- Become synonymous with collaborative, hands-on learning within and beyond the Andover community
- Showcase the best of what we do, providing a laboratory for high school students to learn about other cultures, access cross-cultural perspectives, and create their own exhibitions and research projects using the museum’s resources
- Confront and engage with the often troubling circumstances of our institution’s history with Native American communities and work with those communities to heal old wounds
- Improve physical and intellectual control over our collections, which would include a complete database, online access to some collections, and putting in place improved physical, security, and environmental systems
- Build a broad base of support from the community that values our approach to collaborative learning, Native American engagement, and collections stewardship
Read the full PDF Plan >>