It was with interest that I read the Dec. 15 article on the possible changes to the museum acquisitions policy.
The museum recently received a generous bequest and that could have gone a long way toward providing the required storage for what has been donated, or what may be donated in the future. The board chose to spend at least some of the monies on staff salaries.
The 2016 City Operational Grant was $40,000 (up from $35,000 the previous year) and salaries alone are now nearly twice that amount. The bequest will run out quickly in this scenario.
While there were no restrictions as to how the donation was to be spent, I believe it could be better allocated for museum improvements.
The museum is open 12 hours a week during the winter and 30 hours per week during the summer hours. Do we really need staff at 57.5 hours a week?
The article in the Review quotes curator Amy McCroy: “If we take an item, we have to have the funds to take care of it…. Museums will sometimes ask donors to leave a small contingency fund with their donation, to ensure its care is sustained over time.”
What I hear is “we’d love to have your artifacts, but only if you provide a cash donation as well.”
If that policy comes into being, I hope there is enough knowledge on the board to set up a trust fund so money donated for that purpose is used for that purpose.
I don’t think anyone would disagree either that there are items in the collection that, for any number of reasons, should be deaccessioned.
I wonder how many people are going to consider not donating and what might be lost to the museum and history of Summerland because of policies and their perceived limitations. I am also concerned with what has been put forth for the deaccessioning process.
I believe the current staff, through no fault of their own, do not have the knowledge of the history of Summerland to make informed decisions.
My understanding of the state of the museum records is that a lot of supporting documentation or information is either non-existent or not easily accessible, which could further hinder anyone being able to find out relevant information on any given piece.
I do not have confidence that decisions being made are in the best interest of the Summerland Museum. I also believe I am not alone in that conclusion and that may be why one-third of the board of directors have resigned.