Museology Master of Arts Program

April 6, 2021

On Party Business: A Manual for Managing Private Events at Small Museums

Project Thesis by Jackie Mendenhall

Museums haven’t always rented their spaces out to members of the public or corporations. Yet, over the last 35 years, facility rentals have been an increasingly important part of a museum’s revenue stream. The purpose of this project was to create a manual for the Bellevue Arts Museum on facility rental management. The problem this project intended to address is that though many museums rely on facility rentals as an earned income stream, there is a lack of framework supporting managing facility rentals at smaller museums, impeding the ability of small museums to rent out their spaces by decreasing worker productivity and ultimately negatively affecting earning potential. Key components of this project included working with Bellevue Arts Museum’s Department of Special Events and Volunteers, taking inventory of the tasks performed for facility rentals, generating work instructions in the form of a manual, thoughtful formatting and organization of the manual, and making the manual available to staff. The findings of this project impact the way in which museums can support renting their facility while preserving the integrity of their mission. This project can be used as a model by museums interested in honing their current facility rental program or developing one to capitalize on their unique space and collection to attract and develop a new audience as well.


Mendenhall, J. (2020). On Party Business: A Manual for Managing Private Events at Small Museums. [Unpublished master’s project]. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


project, small museums, event planning, manual, facility rental management