Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Museum Pledges Aren't Materializing in Atlanta, Ga.

This was the headline in the WSJ by Carrick Mollenkamp recently. "Forget the big expansion plans; following the Dot-Com debacle, pledges aren't materializing. A dozen years after it was founded, the museum known as SciTrek is scrambling to stay afloat. The reasons are many: Poor record keeping hid budget problems (interesting that the 2007 Lakeview Museum Financial Statements are not yet available to the public??). Government support is minuscule and pledges have failed to materialize. Atlanta is in the embarrassing position of watching its science museum falter".

Will the Peoria Riverfront Museum Committee be upfront and tell us how many "pledgers" have been called in the past 5 month and asked to re-confirm in writing that their pledges are still solid? On 11/19/07, in as Asset and Liability report from a committee member states, "some bad luck on major gift possibilities and a dormant campaign organization".

The SciTrek center had a $2.7 million dollar operating budget but was spending $60 to $80 thousand a month more than it had budgeted for. The local newspaper reported donations meant for exhibits were used to meet payroll.

There very few success stories out their for the museum business of any kind. Those with the most success are privately owned like the City Museum in downtown St.Louis and museums with large endowments (last I heard The Riverfront Museum had anywhere from no endowment money set aside to $3 million out a needed $9 to $13 million endowment.

Another article in the Wall Street Journal, dated 8/20/05, says "Museums have long been accustomed to covering their operating cost through their endowments rather than retail operations. According to a principal in A & A Consulting, the average visitor costs a museum about $80, substantially more than the typical price of a ticket - meaning that museum directors must spend energy raising funds yearly to support a business premised on losing money".

Today the cost with inflation would be about $90 per visitor.

In the Peoria Riverfront Museum estimated operating report shows that the board intends to raise $500,000 a year in fund raising drives.

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