Museum asks council for $30,000 grant

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012 06:00 am | Julie Bertrand

Olds Historical Society chair Donna Erdman has asked Town of Olds council to financially support Mountain View Museum for a 10-month period at a cost of $30,000, which would give time for the society to reorganize itself.

While town council had earmarked $25,000 in its 2012 budget for the museum, it asked Erdman to submit a business plan. Council also asked for time to discuss the museum’s situation with town administration before making a decision about the grant.

“I am not prepared to make (the motion for the grant) today without further discussion with our administration on that,” said Coun. Mary Jane Harper.

“I think you are aware though that council does certainly support the museum.”

However, council agreed to qualify a $3,000 advance it made to the museum last December as a “grant in aid.”

The museum has been having troubles since last fall. Former manager Anne Lindsay had to appeal for cleaning and office supplies last September after clothes moths infested the museum building. Then, Lindsay was let go in December after her position was terminated due to a funding shortfall.

The society had originally asked town officials for help last December, after which Town of Olds advanced the $3,000 to help the society finish the 2011 fiscal year.

“We would be fooling ourselves and fooling the town if we said that everything was fine at the museum, because it is not,” said Erdman.

Olds Historical Society does have a plan, she said. First, the museum will remain open, but it will keep shorter hours. Then, the society needs to repopulate its board, which has presently six members.

“Several board members have indicated that they would like to remove themselves from the board due to other interests and applications that press on their time,” said Erdman.

“We need to repopulate our board with energetic members that are prepared to roll up their sleeves and find ways to increase our revenue stream for grants, donations and regular events.”

One staff member

Finally, Erdman believes the society needs to hire a part-time museum manager with collection care and preservation experience.

“With only one staff member, who is archivist Jeffery Kearney, and no manager, it is very difficult when you just work with volunteers that are not trained like museum people,” she said.

“I touched a piece of fabric the other day and just about got my hand slapped because I was not wearing white gloves.”

The $30,000 grant would pay for the museum manager’s and Kearney’s salaries, as well as general expenses.

Meanwhile, the future of the museum is not as gloomy as it seems. The society will soon receive the money that was raised by the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stop in Olds last January. The society has also partnered with Uptowne Olds for the “A penny saved is a penny earned” fundraising campaign. Both organizations will split the money raised between them. And the society has started discussions with the Olds College Centennial committee regarding the museum’s gallery space as a potential site for the committee to sell centennial memorabilia.

“We are also approaching local service clubs that may be able to offer financial support on a short-term basis,” said Erdman.

As well, the society is thinking about placing an ad in a brochure put out by the Central Alberta Regional Museum Network.

“We can be part of that brochure for $150, which is about $5,000 or $6,000 in marketing, because it is a group of 50 museums,” said Erdman.

“If we can be part of that, that is going to help our exposure as well.”


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