Larson plans to revive city-run museum board

The City of Aberdeen is planning to restaff a formal city museum board to better manage and plan for the...

The City of Aberdeen is planning to restaff a formal city museum board to better manage and plan for the museum’s rebuilding after last month’s fire that destroyed the Armory building.

During Tuesday’s Friends of the Museum board meeting, Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson said he hopes to revive the museum board and have people appointed to it during the July 25 Aberdeen City Council meeting.

“For the city to be heavily involved in this, that’s the route this needs to go from a legal standpoint,” Larson said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s currently too inflexible.”

Currently, an independent volunteer group called Friends of the Museum is the only group managing the museum, as the actual city-run museum board hasn’t been staffed for a couple of decades. When the museum board existed, it had two paid positions, and board members. Back then, the Friends of the Museum acted more as a fundraising group.

The City of Aberdeen now contracts out to the Friends of the Museum to manage the museum, and pays the organization $15,000 a year to do so, but Friends of the Museum treasurer Nancy Cuyle said the group never took over the roles of the city’s museum board in order to manage the museum’s collection and operations.

“The Friends never really took over from that other board,” said Cuyle. “The other board was doing nothing, so we were kind of forced to do it.”

Larson agreed, saying at the meeting he felt like the group was “not functional” as it is now.

The Friends of the Museum currently has 10 board positions, several of which were filled at Tuesday’s meeting. Jack Micheau was selected to be the group’s new president at the meeting, and Amy Herring was appointed as chairwoman of the membership standing committee, but there are still four positions empty.

There was very little discussion at Tuesday’s meeting as to where members want to rebuild the museum or how they’d get funding to do so.

But Larson said if there were a more public, city-managed group reaching out to potential donors, he thinks it would more likely lead to that funding.

“I feel like people who are going to donate six-figure amounts are probably going to be more comfortable donating those to a public entity, rather than a private, non-profit,” said Larson.

Next week, Larson said he would send out a press release explaining logistics such as how many museum board member positions there would be, and how people can apply.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a majority of the Friends of the Museum board members said they’d be happy to switch to being part of an official museum board.

If that happened, it’s unclear whether the Friends of the Museum would continue with new members or if it would disband. Cuyle said she was fine with eliminating the Friends of the Museum if a city-managed board was created.

“I was thinking, ‘Just kill it,’ because it’s so confusing to have two boards.”