My first long-term museum job (meaning that I wasn’t just there for the summer) was at a historic farm in North Carolina. Historic Oak View County Park was fully funded by Wake County, which meant everything we did was free to visitors—admission, school tours, special events. Occasionally, we even got magical phone calls at the end of the fiscal year: “You have to spend X dollars in the next two weeks.” It was all very, very nice. When I started working at Dallas Heritage Village, it took me a little while to adjust to a very different funding structure. As Gary has discussed previously (/blog/To-our-Trustees-Members-Neighbors-Friends-and-Constituents-Why-We-Need-Your-Support), our budget is made up of all kinds of revenue streams, including a ..
To our Trustees, Members, Neighbors, Friends, and Constituents : Why We Need Your Support Previously I discussed the impact of state government cuts on museums around the country, including Texas. Since I wrote that essay, I have attended the Texas Association of Museums annual meeting, where I visited with colleagues and picked up more stores of what is happening in other states. The news is not good. Clearly, we are in an era where government support for history, culture, and the arts is on a long-term decline. Government funding is important, because it is generally allocated for operations support such as utilities, salaries, maintenance—the kind of things that other funders are reluctant to support. If government support is on a long-term decline, ..
(/images/postimages/hotel.gif)What does it take to repair a historic structure that is a bit worn? In the case of the Worth Hotel, it took a village, a charitable foundation, a social services organization, three generous corporations, a self-taught carpenter who used to fix trolley cars, and an unemployed history major. The Worth Hotel was never intended to be a beautiful structure. Traveling salesmen looking for a place to stay did not expect much in the way of aesthetics. For the past few years, this humble structure has looked alarmingly bad. Siding fell off, and we had to cover the hole with black plastic, which is incompatible with Victorian structures. Paint peeled and wasps lived happily in the walls. Visitors helpfully pointed out the problems, as if we might h ..
Last summer, I was faced with a bit of a conundrum. We had just concluded another great “Teens in History” event. Once again, the Junior Historians had done an amazing job of researching their topics and presenting that knowledge to visitors of all ages. But once that day was over, their hard work just vanished. This didn’t seem right. At the same time, I had been doing a bit of reading. Specifically, Nina Simon’s The Participatory Museum and D. Lynn McRainey’s and John Russick’s (http://www.lcoastpress.com/book.php?id=222)Connecting Kids to History Through Museum Exhibitions. (http://www.lcoastpress.com/book.php?id=222) All these thoughts merged into an idea: what if we let the Junior Historians do an exhibit? What if we let them add a lay ..
The headlines this spring and summer have been full of references to federal and state budget discussions, usually revolving around cuts in funding. The Texas Legislature just finished its work, and the implications of their budget cuts will soon be rippling throughout city and county governments. In the culture and arts world, we always watch these events with interest, because they inevitably affect our operations. What starts out as a cut at the state level trickles down to city and county governments, affecting their ability to pay for basic services. When city and county leaders have to make choices on where to cut, museums, libraries and parks are always first in line. For history museums, especially house museums, cuts in public funding are especially difficul ..