July 6, 2014 update
How does an all-volunteer, membership-run organization raise the capital required to keep it up to date and vital?
This is a question that many of us on the Board of the Museum face daily. As we move into the 21st century, museums in general are expected to fulfill many roles in our society - to be a repository for valuable, historical collections, to provide access to these collections to the public, while securing them against theft and damage, to provide a public space for community events and celebrations, to provide performances and exhibitions of high standards, to collaborate with educational institutions to maximise learning throughout life, and to be open and accessible to all. In addition, museums are often thought of in terms of amenities, offering classes and workshops as well as offering restaurant or cafe services. Can the Somerville Museum meet these expectations? How does one do this with volunteer labor operating on membership dues? And if we do not meet these standards, will we still exist in 100 years?
The Board of Trustees take the mission of the Museum very seriously and have worked on a ten year strategic plan to address many of the issues above. By 2020, we intend to have significantly weather-proofed the building, improved the care of collections, made the exhibition areas accessible to those in wheelchairs, and documented the collections digitally for the public's access. We hope by then to have begun to build the Museum's endowment and to be able to offer part-time staff positions.
How are we doing? Well, by all standards. Out of a $700,000 overall project estimate, we have raised over $390,000! From 2010 to 2012, the Museum replaced its original slate roof inkind at the cost of $224,447. This was followed in 2012 and 2013 with repair and repainting of the exterior woodwork ($48,000) and the interior exhibition spaces ($17,600). In mid-June, the Museum was awarded $40,000 toward the Access for All renovations to make the Museum accessible to disabled visitors. Thank you Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Cultural Facilities Fund! We now have the funds necessary to undertake the exterior work of incorporating a wheelchair lift into the Westwood Road entrance. We still need to raise funds to complete a handicapped-visitor accessible restroom on the first floor of the Museum as well as undertake a number of building code modifications. The entire project is currently estimated to cost $200,000, of which we have $120,000 in hand. We need to raise another $80,000 to make Access for All become a reality.
In 2011, over 400 members of the community contributed an average of $100 to help us raise $45,000 to replace the roof of the Museum. No one at the time thought Somerville could do this, but you proved them wrong. Let's go Somerville Strong!
Below: The New Entryway as envisioned by the architect from Westwood Road. The wheelchair lift is on the facing side.
In the Fall of 2011, the Museum board undertook a survey of the building and grounds to determine what needed to be done to bring the Museum into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). From that information, the Museum's architect, Richard Graf, created plans for a new entranceway on Westwood Road that includes a wheel chair lift and attractive portico. An interior first-floor handicapped-accessible restroom along with a multitude of internal changes required by the code will bring the Museum into ADA compliance. The lobby will need to be reconfigured as one wall must be removed to make space for the restroom. The carpet will need to be changed out, when the configuration changes. The front reception desk will need to be lowered at least in part to the height easily accessibly by a visitor in a wheelchair. The molding of the some doorways will need to be removed to widen them. The Bulfinch staircase will need to be protected by a barrier to prevent damage to it from wheelchairs.
The current state of the Westwood Road entrance. Stairs are to the right and not shown above.
An example of a Garaventa wheelchair lift is shown above. This is the type of lift that the Museum will have after the ADA work is completed, although it will be on the exterior and covered by the Portico.
The new portico and pedestrian stairs seen from Central St. (The wheelchair left is on the opposite side)