In the Spotlight:
Meet the New Accreditation Commission Chair

Peer Review Digest

In August, Burt Logan, executive director and CEO of the Ohio Historical Society became the new Chair of the Accreditation Commission after 25 years as a peer reviewer—he’s been on over 29 Accreditation and MAP visits! As you’ll read below, neither fog, nor sleep nor a cancelled ferry has kept him from his appointed peer reviewer route.

Burt has been a museum director since 1987—starting at the Wyoming Historical and Geological Society (1983–1986) where he oversaw a research library, museum and historic house, then directing the Wisconsin Maritime Museum (1986–95) and USS Constitution Museum (1995–2009) before arriving in Ohio in 2009. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and served as an Army officer. He has an M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and attended the Museum Leadership Institute at The Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Because the partnership between peer reviewers and the Accreditation Commission  is so important, we wanted you to know Burt better. He gamely answered a few questions posed by the Alliance staff. The Commissioners are your colleagues and peers—and even continue to do site visits while on the Commission—so don’t be shy about getting in touch with Burt or any other members if you have ideas or questions about the Commission, Peer Review or the Accreditation Program in general.

How has participating in peer review changed you as a museum professional? 

It has certainly broadened my outlook, especially in the areas of education, community outreach and programming. Because of peer review, I learned  the depth and breadth of the collective museum community to a degree that I would have missed otherwise.

Why did you decide to become a peer reviewer?

There were several reasons. First, I have always felt that anyone who is a member of a profession should return something to the profession and assist whenever possible. I also knew that in the process of reviewing other museums that I would learn a lot about how they had approached many of the same challenges that I was facing. And third, I felt being a peer reviewer would be an excellent opportunity to see many museums that I would otherwise probably never visit.

What is your proudest accomplishment as a peer reviewer?  

A museum selected me to conduct both a General MAP and a Collections Stewardship MAP a number of years apart. I recently met a colleague who is very familiar with the museum, although not on staff. She commented how much the museum had improved and grown over the years, and how a number of my suggestions had born substantial fruit. I occasionally wonder if museums find the reports useful, or if they end up collecting dust. It was very gratifying to hear, at least in the opinion of this colleague, that MAP made a real difference for this museum.

Tell us about a memorable site visit experience.

When I was the Director of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, I agreed to conduct a MAP review for a historical society in central Michigan in late June. I made a reservation to cross Lake Michigan on the 11 p.m. car ferry the night before the site visit, hoping to sleep during the crossing (four hours) and grab a couple more hours of sleep in my car on the Michigan side of the lake before driving to the historical society.

Around 5 p.m. I received a call that the ferry would not be running that night because of dense fog on Lake Michigan. I knew that several trustees of the historical society were taking off work in order to participate in the visit, so I felt a strong sense of duty to be present. I did not want to drive through Chicago, so I headed north toward the Upper Peninsula and the Mackinaw Bridge for what was going to be about a 10-hour drive.

The first couple of hours seemed to fly by. Then, I started to get drowsy, so I began popping No Doze and drinking Jolt. Then night fell. Mine seemed to be the only car on the road, and the headlights illuminated an endless nocturnal menagerie from porcupines, to foxes and one bear; it was quite surreal.  Still, I drove on; still, popping No Doze.

Around 1 a.m. I passed a motel somewhere in the UP, stopped and checked in to grab two or three hours of sleep.  However, the No Doze won. After lying in bed for two hours with both my mind and heart racing, never once closing my eyes, I checked out at 3 a.m. and continued driving.

I arrived at the historical society just as the last of the No Doze was wearing off. I ended up standing for most of the site visit to keep from falling asleep.  As soon as the consultation ended, I checked into a hotel and slept until the next morning.