Editor’s Note: What follows is the text of Martha’s Vineyard Museum executive director Keith Gorman’s letter to the members, published in the latest edition of the museum newsletter.
In my work at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, I am constantly reminded of the contributions of this organizations’s volunteers, staff and supporters over the past 85 years. To appreciate this legacy of commitment is to feel a sense of responsibility to protect the vision of all those who have gone before, and whose work continues to advance the museum’s mission today.
We are in a period of transition which necessarily brings both challenges and opportunities. But what will not change is the dedication of this institution’s board and staff to preserving the Island’s history and making it available for current and future generations.
Together, the board and staff have developed three broad goals for 2008: to improve the museum’s accessibility, to improve our programming and to build our financial strength.
We know through our strategic planning that we need to improve the museum’s accessibility; to give visitors a more comprehensive experience and to better protect and preserve the collection that enables us to tell the Island’s story. We continue to explore the best possible location and design for a new facility, which we believe to be our most important obligation.
Discussions continued through the winter about the next steps for the 19th-century barn that we intend to build on our property in West Tisbury. As we were poised to move forward on planning and design workshops, we were presented with an unexpected offer from the town of Edgartown — the possibility to purchase, for $1, the old Edgartown School as a new home for the museum. The board believes this offer deserves to be investigated seriously. A task force has been established to examine the building’s structural soundness, the appropriateness of the space for museum purposes and the potential costs of renovation. We anticipate hearing from the task force before June.
In the short term, we will address issues of accessibility this summer by offering limited visitor parking, increasing audio-visual opportunities and improving our Web site.
To improve programming in 2008, we intend to evaluate our current programs, broaden our adult programming and increase our use and analysis of surveys. We are interested in how you think we are doing, so please let me know.
Finally, we will build our financial strength. With the downturn of the economy, we are cognizant of increased costs and know it will be harder to bring in revenue. Therefore, we are exploring new revenue streams through business sponsorships, regular adult programming and one new special event. While we need to find ways to reduce expenses, we also know we need to increase our visibility and prominence in the community. More than ever we are using “barter” arrangements with other businesses and organizations to keep our name in the spotlight.
For the museum to fulfill its mission, I believe that it is essential to communicate with you, our constituents and supports. We are all ambassadors and stewards of this wonderful organization. Thus, we need to discuss and debate our future plans. I welcome your comments and ideas. Most importantly, I want you to know that my door is open. I am confident that together we will strengthen and build the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.