Strategic Plan 2024-2029: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Strategic Plan 2024-2029

Untitled - February 16, 2024 at 15.03.54




Our Strategic Priorities 2024-2029

We are proud to share our strategic priorities alongside revised mission, vision, and guiding questions that reflect a clearer understanding of our purpose.   Over the next five years, we will invest time and resources in the following areas where we have identified important opportunities for impact.

1. Build Museum Collection Access and Infrastructure

Expand onsite and digital access and deepen the reach of The Block collection as a significant interdisciplinary campus resource through investment in collection growth and collection-related systems and infrastructure.

2.  Support Student Learning through the Museum Collection
Enhance the academic experience and personal development of Northwestern students by activating the museum collection in teaching, research, and experiential learning, and as a stimulus for dialogue.
3. Advance and Amplify Block Cinema

Redefine Block Cinema as an imaginative site for scholarship, pedagogy, public dialogue, and community building, elevating its presence as a Northwestern resource and amongst cinema programs in higher education.

4. Establish Three Core Northwestern Partnerships

Initiate and sustain discussions with leaders of Northwestern’s creative and performing arts, Northwestern’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, and Northwestern Libraries to identify mutual strategic alignments and potential shared infrastructures that impact teaching, learning, and scholarship.

5. Define Metrics and Enhance Evaluation to Shape our Story

Articulate clear metrics around our work, partnerships, and equity commitments, and create effective systems for assessing our impact; data that will allow us to expand the reach and quality of our storytelling, grow engagement with the museum, and broaden investment in our work.

About Our Priorities

 In spring 2023, The Block began a process of learning more about how our stakeholders see us and how we see ourselves. The objective of this process of self-study and self-reflection was to seek a deeper understanding of the value we were providing our stakeholders and of how we might continue to evolve. What we learned has contributed significantly to a revision of our mission and vision as well as to the strategic goals that will guide our investment of time and resources for the next five years. We are proud to share the results of our lively discussions in this plan, also developed with Northwestern’s Mission and Guiding Principles, Northwestern’s Land Acknowledgment, and The Block’s Statement of Equity Commitment in mind.

This plan continues the transformative work outlined in “The Block as a Frame of Mind,” the strategic plan implemented from 2018 to 2023, which has given The Block its distinctive identity. That plan focused on three (then) emerging areas of institutional identity: The Block as an Interdisciplinary Powerhouse, The Block Is its Relationships, and The Block as a Frame of Mind (which emphasized our work beyond the walls of the museum). The pursuit of five strategic priorities underscored these roles and set us on the path to increased impact and institutional change.

As we assessed our work and our contributions to campus and community, we asked the question “Who are we now?” Our focus and identity now reflect a clearer understanding of our purpose and the criteria informing our decision-making. We recognized that while our program and activities were well understood by our team and our publics, it was important to find more precise language to communicate the processes and the ethos we specifically bring to this work.  We sought to foreground our style of collaboration, interdisciplinary connection, experimentation, and questioning—and to better articulate the broad impact to which we aspire. 

We are grateful for the partnership of our colleagues at Northwestern’s former Office of Organizational Strategy and Change. In this process, our colleagues collected data through dialogue and co-creation sessions with more than fifty individuals, including Northwestern leadership, faculty, students, community partners, The Block Advisory Board, and all museum staff. We are further grateful to organizational consultant Alma Quiroga, who led us through a keen synthesis of this data and whose facilitation and strategic insight throughout the year brought us to a dynamic understanding of our work.  

Our Mission and Vision

The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University is an engine that drives questioning, experimentation, and collaboration across fields of study, with visual arts at the center.

We do this by activating art’s power as a form of insight, research, and knowledge creation that makes human experience visible and material.

Fueled by diverse perspectives and ways of knowing, we create shared encounters with art and with one another to deepen understandings of the world and our place within it.


We envision a future in which:

  • The Block has a sustained impact on its diverse audiences who join us in asking bold questions and who find meaning in ongoing engagement with the museum. 
  • The Block is integral to Northwestern's commitments to academic excellence, dialogue across differences, public discourse, and student sense of belonging. 
  •  The Block is considered fundamental to teaching, learning, and research by faculty, students, and staff across all of Northwestern’s twelve schools.
  • The Block consistently embodies the values and commitments of its equity statement within decision-making, in organizational culture, and in all aspects of its work.
  • The Block propels the work of academic art museums forward, contributing to their potential, deepening their relevance, and expanding their value.