History of the Museum Leadership Institute
The Museum Leadership Institute formed as an entity in the late 1970’s. Since its founding, MLI has served over 1,900 museum professionals from the United States and over 40 countries worldwide. MLI’s other educational activities in service to the museum field have benefited audiences far and wide. Today, MLI has a strong network of alumni working at leading institutions around the globe.
The Museum Leadership Institute (MLI)–formerly known as the Museum Management Institute (MMI)–was first offered in 1979 in Berkeley, California under the auspices of the San Francisco-based Art Museum Association of America (AMAA) and the University of California Extension. The four-week program was intended to improve the management skills of mid-career and senior-level museum professionals. Faculty members were primarily leaders from the museum field. The J. Paul Getty Trust assumed full financial responsibility for the program in 1984 and AMAA administered the program on behalf of the Getty.
Over the three decades of its existence, MMI underwent periodic reviews to keep it current with the evolving needs of the museum field. In 1986, an assessment of the professional development needs of the field was undertaken, as well as a consideration of the latest teaching approaches in executive education. A new curriculum, introduced in 1987, emphasized management strategies and best practices from both the for-profit and nonprofit fields. New faculty members were recruited from the top ranks of executive education. At the same time, AMAA merged with the New York-based American Federation of Arts (AFA), and the AFA assumed administrative responsibility for MMI on behalf of the Getty. In 1992, MMI’s administrative staff moved to the AFA’s New York office.
From 1995 to 1997, another intensive look at the curriculum was undertaken. MMI staff surveyed the field, talked with alumni, and consulted with faculty members and other leaders in executive education. Because it was increasingly difficult to satisfy the needs of both mid-career and senior-level museum professionals with a single program, MMI was targeted for those with the greatest ability to influence change in their institutions, i.e., museum directors and senior executive team members. A new curriculum in a three-week format was offered in 1997. The Getty Leadership Institute (GLI) was formed to administer MMI and in January 2000, the Institute became an in-house program of the Getty Trust. During this time MMI was still being held in Berkeley. At the end of 2003, MMI was renamed MLI: The Museum Leadership Institute, to better reflect the program’s focus on leadership issues and its influence in the field. And in summer 2004, MLI was first offered at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. This new venue offered participants the opportunity to study at the Getty Center’s dramatic hilltop campus, with areas for solitude and reflection as well as facilities and resources that encourage research and exchange. That same year also marked the inaugural offering of NextGen, a program for those deeper in the organization—mid-level staff identified by senior executives as having extraordinary potential. Since 2004, over 150 mid-level staff have participated in NextGen.
In 2003, GLI was integrated within the Getty Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the J. Paul Getty Trust. During 2008, the Foundation and GLI began to explore potential relationships with a variety of similarly missioned organizations, to reduce costs in a difficult economic climate. It rapidly became apparent that there were significant and exciting opportunities in moving to a new structure, particularly partnering with those that shared core values with GLI.
GLI’s move to Claremont Graduate University
In November 2009, the Getty Foundation announced a major grant of $2.2 million to CGU. This grant supported the move of GLI to Claremont Graduate University (CGU). GLI became “The Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University (GLI at CGU)” effective January 4, 2010. GLI and the Getty Foundation chose to partner with CGU because of CGU’s established reputation in quality graduate education, particularly leadership and management studies, its expertise with international programs, its open partnership environment and the potential for wider collaborations with programs and faculty at the Claremont Colleges, and its proximity to the Getty. Claremont’s Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management has at its core a perception of leadership as a liberal art. Additionally, the School of Arts and Humanities had developed an outstanding master’s degree program in arts management in collaboration with the Drucker School. NextGen was re-launched at CGU in Spring 2011; and the first MLI held on campus was in Summer 2011.
In June 2012, the Getty Foundation announced a second three-year $1.95 million grant to CGU, and in 2015 an additional $1 million. These grants supported the continued operation of GLI on CGU’s campus through 2019. They also supported a re-envisioning of programs, curriculum, and staff to ensure that GLI at CGU remained at the forefront of developing innovative leadership programs for museum professionals. A goal for this phase included the selection of a new executive director to replace Phil Nowlen who retired at the end of 2012. Nowlen led GLI with distinction since 2000, having previously served for 14 years as academic director of MMI.
Melody Kanschat was appointed the new executive director of GLI in April 2013. Toni Guglielmo joined the team in August 2013 as Assistant Director. Together they have shepherded the establishment of MLI @ CGU.
In October 2019, MLI@CGU received a $484,000 award in the National Leadership Grants for Museums program from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (MG-70-19-0055-19-0) to develop, launch, and manage an online mentoring platform for museum professionals. POLARIS: The Museum Mentor Network launched nationwide in April 2020.
In January 2020, MLI@CGU became independent of the Getty Foundation and officially transitioned to the “Museum Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University” (MLI @CGU). In December 2020, Melody Kanschat retired as Executive Director. Toni Guglielmo was appointed Director of MLI@CGU in January 2021.