museums&MORE Spring 2020
Success starts with educational opportunities from MSA

{Sponsored} While the retail profession can be highly competitive and protective  of trade secrets, the Museum Store Association (MSA) members are different. Sharing ideas about merchandising, best-selling items, profit margins, and other KPIs remains on the table. Plus, whether it’s attending the regional or national meetings, learning and networking abound when members get together.

We chatted with three MSA members — a vendor and representatives from two institutions — about their favorite parts of being MSA members. Here’s what they had to say.

Kristen Daniels, Kamibashi

As a vendor member, Daniels has access to the same perks as institution members when it comes to education. She is part of the South Atlantic regional chapter and enjoys two regional chapter meetings each year.

A 15-year veteran MSA member, Daniels has learned that catering to every type of MSA institution member is important to her business. Kamibashi started with

Kamibashi String Dolls
Kamibashi String Dolls

string dolls that Daniels describes as Halloweeny. “I learned I need to make an astronaut and a woolly mammoth, things I can sell not only to art museums but also to natural history and science museums,” Daniels said. As a result of working with the institution members of MSA, Kamibashi’s offerings have expanded to encompass hundreds of styles and every theme imaginable.

“The camaraderie in MSA is amazing. It isn’t just buyers helping buyers. It is also vendors helping vendors and buyers helping vendors. It’s a really special community. Friendly, not competitive,” Daniels said.

Ellen Bragalone, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Bragalone started her career in for-profit retail and appreciates the different atmosphere in nonprofit retail and the MSA members that are part of it. Rather than hiding every financial detail and best practice she discovered, her world at Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA Boston) is an open book — to other MSA members, at least. This means that if other members have had similar

Ellen Bragalone
Ellen Bragalone

exhibitions, she can discuss best practices, profitability and other details that make it successful for her stores — or help other museums succeed.

Her buyers are a mix of veterans with a few having less experience. All of them are able to use the online educational opportunities — the veterans for refreshers and the novice buyers to work on fine tuning. She appreciates the networking both for how museums stores help each other but also finds other ways that MSA supports MFA Boston’s mission. “MSA’s webinars, blogs and anything they post … their knowledge standards are all geared towards supporting (our mission),” Bragalone said.

Dan Ayers-Price, Key West Art and Historical Society

Key West is isolated geographically compared to many other museum locations, and Ayers-Price has learned to rely upon both the online education and networking opportunities at a regional and national level.

Dan Ayers-Price, Key West Art & Historical Society Director of Retail
Dan Ayers-Price, Key West Art & Historical Society Director of Retail

Unlike his colleagues in larger urban settings, Ayers-Price can’t really have the chance to get coffee with his colleagues at other institutions outside of those events.

He calls the MSA educational opportunities irreplaceable. “It’s the easiest way to advance your personal knowledge base within a group of people that have similar interests in the work environment that I have,” Ayers-Price said. His favorite is the national conference, which allows him to network with colleagues he would have no other opportunity to meet without attending.

ShopTalk, the MSA online community forum, is another resource Ayers-Price uses often. It allows him to reach out with any questions he might have and gives him the confidence that he will always get an answer or some sort of guidance. “I don’t know very many organizations that are that generous in their member support,” Ayers-Price said. “The more I get involved, the more I realize what a wonderful organization MSA is and how we all should do our utmost to support each other.”

Why you should join MSA — in their own words

“If you even get one new museum store customer per year, you are going to earn well more than the yearly dues,” Daniels said.

“Other stores should join 100% for professional development opportunities. I am a firm believer that each department head should take advantage of every opportunity available to increase knowledge, to be able to mix and mingle with like-minded colleagues, and to learn in order to help in your day to day world of your own job,” Ayers-Price said.

“I think if a museum hasn’t been part of MSA, they should really think about doing a test year. Even though they might call it a test year, once they get involved in benefits, it will become a lasting relationship. I have been (at Museum of Fine Arts Boston) 23 years and a member 19 to 20 years,” Bragalone said.

Visit to find information about:

  • Membership
  • Chapter Events
  • ShopTalk
  • Museum Store Sunday®

Join now at

About the Museum Store Association (MSA)

The Museum Store Association is a 501(c)3 international organization with the mission of advancing the nonprofit retail industry, its museum stores, and the success of the professionals engaged in it. MSA offers educational information and programs throughout the year with regional and national events highlighting the best in the industry. By advocating for and encouraging high standards of curated products, knowledge, and professionalism, MSA helps museum stores and their nonprofit retail professionals better serve their institutions and the public. For more information visit

© 2020 Museum Store Association

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