Creative Conservation Funding at the Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University

This post is by Kyle Elizabeth Bryner, Registrar and Collections Manager, and Sara Cromwell, PR, Marketing and Membership Coordinator. Bryner and Cromwell originally presented this information at the North Carolina Museums Council Annual Meeting, March 2012.

View of collections in the WFU Museum of Anthropology's new storage space--storage supplies were the result of a 2010 fundraising campaign.

First, determine what collections the museum holds. A full object inventory is a priority – if you do not know what you have you cannot plan for your needs! Obtain conservation assessments, create long range conservation plans – work closely with trusted conservators. Create a list of objects in need of conservation and prioritize by severity of damage, interpretive importance and ease of conservation.

At the MOA, we choose objects based on the previous criteria but also on a rotating schedule. Objects are conserved based on world region, culture and availability of funds. Accidents happen and sometimes an object is moved to the top of the list for immediate repair.

Ask fellow professionals for recommended conservators or use the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) resource center to find a recognized professional. Obtain estimates. Laugh at estimates. Choose the bid that is right for your museum. Brainstorm ways to obtain funding.

Work with other members of your museum staff to identify funding sources. Step outside of your comfort zone – ask everyone for ideas! Cooperation on this type of project helps you to educate others about what you do and also to understand their positions in the museum. Collaboration allows museum departments to share resources and build goodwill.

Identify past and present financial donors to the museum. Identify object donors who may contribute to object conservation. Ask for recommendations for potential monetary donors from board members.

Collaborate among departments to create the “ASK.” Clearly define what funds are needed, why they are needed and how a donor’s support will make a difference. Offer incentives for financially generous contributions. Plan events and interpretive opportunities to educate donors about the conservation projects.

The MOA’s development and collections departments created a letter campaign to attract donors to conservation projects. MOA’s Advisory Board was involved in developing the letters and the Board President signs the letters each year. Initiated in 2008, with the conservation of a Native American hide robe, the “Save Our Hide” project raised over $1300. At the time, this was the most raised to date for conservation.

We send letters in November to encourage year-end giving and structure the donation form to encourage higher levels of giving. The average gift amount has shown an upward trend. Due to the restrictions of being a university museum, MOA accepts cash or check, and recently moved into the 20th century by accepting credit cards by phone.

We were reluctant to depend solely on the untested letters, so we also applied for grants. The initial conservation project received additional funds from the North Carolina Preservation Consortium and the IMLS – Bank of America, American Heritage Preservation Grant program. The granting agencies applauded our resourcefulness in preemptively soliciting individual donors to the project.

Funded projects:

2008- Painted Native American Hide. Amount raised: $1,340 in donor funds. $4,645 from grants.

2009- Yan Ka Di Puppet from Mali. Amount raised: $1,635 from donors.

2010 – Conservation and Storage Supplies Drive – Amount raised: $1,305 from donors.

2011 – Barongsai Masks from Bali. Amount raised from donors to date: $1,075.

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About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on April 20, 2012, in collections care, collections management, guest bloggers, museums, storage and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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