How to Close a Museum

How to Close a Museum

A Practical Guide

Susana Smith Bautista


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How to Close a Museum: A Practical Guide answers your questions about closing a museum. Even if you are just considering your options during difficult times and planning for your future, this book takes you through all the legal, ethical, and operational questions to start thinking about.

It clearly lays out all the steps to follow to dissolve the nonprofit corporation, how to work with the board, disperse assets, create a final staffing plan, media relations, archival materials, community relations, and how to deal with donors and preserve the legacy of the organization. Included in the book are valuable forms, creative ideas, and sample documents to save you time.

Written by Dr. Susana Bautista, an experienced museum administrator, curator, and museologist, who personally went though this process of closing a museum as the last executive director of the Pasadena Museum of California Art in 2018. She will recount her experiences and lessons learned, as well as those of other museum leaders who have gone through similar experiences, so that all museum professionals will be better prepared for what is always a stressful and emotional experience.


Susana Smith Bautista:

Susana Smith Bautista is a museum professional and art historian with almost 30 years of providing leadership and strategic guidance to museums and cultural institutions, and an art curator and critic of Latinx/Chicanx and Latin American art, having worked in Greece, New York, and Los Angeles. She served as executive director of the Mexican Cultural Institute of Los Angeles and as interim deputy director and then director of public engagement at the USC Pacific Asia Museum. She was executive director of the Pasadena Museum of California Art when it closed permanently October 2018.

Bautista received a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Southern California and a Master’s degree in art history/museum studies also from USC, graduating Phi Kappa Phi.

She has also taught at USC Annenberg School of Communication and at Claremont Graduate University’s Arts Management Program. In March 2020 she participated in a panel discussion at the California Association of Museums on Stories of Museum Transformation and Failure, sharing the closure story of the Pasadena Museum of California Art.