(psst…. don’t say lack of time or money)
by Carolyn Spears
by Carolyn Spears
Absolutely, without question, the Stone Fort Museum in Nacogdoches, Texas, is a small museum. Museum professionals (especially those of us working in small museums) spend a fair amount of time asking what makes a museum small. What’s your budget? What’s your staff size? It’s not always easy to draw a line. If we’ve learned anything about the definition of a small museum, it is that it’s relative. Recently, I’ve become more interested in thinking about why.
Is the Stone Fort Museum a small museum because it is a reconstruction of a small historic house? Yes, it is a small building, and yes, the structure has meaning for the town and region, but it is not, and never has, operated as a historic house museum. As a university-associated organization, it’s physically possible to relocate the museum’s teaching and collecting functions to a larger building, and thus abandon this small stone building. As I said, the museum is a reconstruction – albeit an old one – so we could call the building quits and call it a campus folly. Why hasn’t that happened? It has never been proposed to my knowledge, and I have no interest in making that proposal. Why?
I’m not trying to ask the obvious, even if I am. By asking why we’re a small museum, I’m focusing on strategic planning. I don’t assume that because we are small that getting bigger is best direction. The question of size is neither an end in itself, nor a conviction of guilt. But it may be a question that will help us build a future in which we grow even if we stay the same size.
Let us hear from you:
Will 'getting bigger' further the mission of your museum? How?
If your museum grows in physical or fiscal size, what will you gain and what will you lose?