Managing training and development at the National Gallery of Art: a new learning management system increases the scope and accuracy of data sharing, and provides opportunities to develop employee training in new ways.

Author:Lowe, K.M.

With nearly 130,000 items, the National Gallery of Art has one of the finest collections of American and European art from the late middle ages to the present. More than 4 million people visit the gallery each year, making it the sixth most popular art museum in the world.


The gallery is funded using public and private support. Federal funds ensure the operation and maintenance of the buildings as well as the protection and care of the collections. Donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations are responsible for every work of art the museum owns and for its primary activities such as acquisition and conservation, scholarly and scientific research, exhibitions, and educational outreach programs.

In addition to the numerous displays presented each year, the gallery's programs include lectures, concerts, films, and school tours. Daily activities consist of curation, education, programming, restoration, research, and administration. Preserving the museum's collections involves maintaining effective security, environmental control, building maintenance, and conservation programs.

These activities and more are the responsibility of a dedicated staff of approximately 1,000 employees. The gallery has a wide variety of personnel with myriad training needs: accounting, administration, facilities management, fundraising, information systems, library science, and other technical areas, plus salespeople, security guards, and visitor services aides. In addition to regular employees, the museum has many volunteers and interns.

Maintaining a skilled workforce is a vital component for the museum to meet its mandate of maintaining its collections for future generations. Ensuring that personnel are trained to carry out their necessary duties falls to the National Gallery Training Office.

Training Challenges

Over the years, the gallery's training office used a variety of processes and systems to manage staff training. In 2002, the office purchased commercial training management software to automate the administrative processes and functions of managing, tracking, and reporting training information.

In 2009, the vendor was purchased by another company, so the software was no longer in production and technical support would no longer be provided. Additionally, the software had become incompatible with other gallery systems and could not support procedures for posting courses, scheduling classes, and tracking training...

To continue reading