The small museum is a significant force helping to anchor the cultural life of communities across the country – including Erie County, Pennsylvania. (As determined by AASLH, a small museum’s characteristics are varied, but they typically have an annual budget of less than $250,000, operate with a small staff with multiple responsibilities, and employ volunteers to perform key staff functions. Other characteristics such as the physical size of the museum, collections size and scope, etc. may further classify a museum as small.)
In a Museum News article dated March/April 2002, museum director Ron Chew addressed what small museums across the country need not simply to survive, but to thrive. His article is as relevant today as it was in 2002. “First we need to properly value their existence…Second, we should find ways to make it possible for them to participate at museum conferences, including the American Association of Museums annual meeting, opening the door to greater cooperation between large and small institutions. Third, we need to recognize the particular needs of small museums. Small museums cry out for a set of simple, basic professional standards tailored to their functional needs. Fourth, the funding community needs to allocate greater resources to support their survival. If small museums are caring for the majority of this nation’s artifacts, there must be a way to make more grants and technical expertise available to support their work.”
In an effort to provide Erie Yesterday’s member historical societies and museums access to resources, we have gathered information on collection management, museum advocacy, funding sources and professional organizations.