The economic downturn has placed a great deal of stress on museums and historical societies in New York state. Many have seen endowments dwindle while gifts and sponsorships have become more difficult to secure. The State Museum has not been immune to financial difficulties—periodic spending and hiring restrictions have been part of our operational landscape for many years. It’s in the difficult times when the enthusiasm and creativity of our staff spark a true appreciation for the privilege and responsibility of being director of the State Museum. A few examples from the first half of the year:
- We’ve had to cancel cleaning contracts with outside vendors. In response, staff organized a “strike team,” made a plan, and set out to clean the galleries. Their pride in presenting the most welcoming experience for our visitors while protecting the objects on exhibit drove them to step up and voluntarily work beyond expectations.
- Federal stimulus funds have been awarded to realize our vision of the Day Peckinpaugh, the Museum’s 1921 motor ship, as a traveling museum and educational presence on the state’s waterways. This support is wonderful recognition of the value of the Museum’s collections and the importance of our educational mission.
- Staff, working with outside exhibit planners and designers, completed the design phases for our new natural history gallery and new history gallery. These galleries will transform the visitor experience, and our commitment to these projects continues despite the sometimes daunting economic challenges.
Visitors often ask how I cope with such financial difficulties and uncertainties. I tell them I take pride in the Museum’s legacy—and in our stewardship of more than 12 million artifacts and specimens representing New York’s past—knowing we continue to inspire our visitors with the discoveries they make. Most of all, I take pride in and appreciate the steadfast dedication of our staff. I invite you to come to the Museum and meet them!
Director, New York State Museum