Shasta Sisson Museum, Siskiyou, CA

The Shasta Sisson Museum is located in Siskiyou County, California and is part of the State Fish Hatchery located in one of the old hatchery buildings.  The museum represents the collective memory and history of the city of Shasta whose name used to be Sisson.  Justin Sisson was the man responsible for the founding of the hatchery.  It is one of the oldest on the west coast of the United States.  The director of the museum Jean Nels was kind enough to allow about an hour to answer questions about this fascinating museum’s operations.  The end of the interview has some excellent pictures of the museum and its exhibits.


Institution Management Q&A on July 15, 2017

With Jean Nels of the Shasta Sisson Museum

  1. What processes fund the institution and at what percentages?

The museum has no set funding from any single source.  Forty percent comes from donations and store profits.  Twenty-five percent comes from grants, and the rest from memberships and fundraisers. 

  1. How involved are the board members with the operation of the institution?

The board is very involved as all the members are both museum donor members as well as volunteers. Most are also on the exhibit committee.

  1. What processes do you have for maintaining a volunteer pool and what level of involvement can they attain?

The Shasta Sisson Museum’s volunteers are members and on the board.  Sixteen of the thirty work the desk at the gift store and about ten work on specific exhibits.

  1. What relationship does fundraising have to the mission statement?

The mission statement focus comes from fundraising.  This takes the form of sponsorships and presentations where the audience is charged per head.  It is a way to involve the community with the museum and generate revenue.

  1. How involved is the institution with social media?

The Shasta Sisson Museum use a website and Facebook only.  There are no volunteers working on these sites.  None have asked to be involved either.

  1. What museum collection software (MCS) is used and where is the data housed?
    1. Is it stored on local servers, the cloud, and is there any backup? ie: M-Disc
    2. Frequency of system back up
    3. What kind of training do you have for staff and volunteers on the MCS?

Shasta Sisson uses PastPerfect ( on a stand-alone computer.  The system is backed up at the end of each day to an external hard drive.  No volunteers work with PastPerfect and the director is the only person who works on the single computer.  She does attend the PastPerfect training webinars in order to stay current.

  1. How often do you update the collection policy if you have one?

Shasta Sisson’s collection policy was written in 2013 when the director/curator took over.

  1. What do you do with items to be de-accessioned?

It was explained that the museum has not needed to de-accessioned anything so this has not even come up.

  1. Does the institution have a long term and or short term strategic management plan?  How often is it updated, and who is involved? (Staff, volunteers, the board…)

They have a 6-year long-term strategic plan and it is six years old. Shasta Sisson museum intends to update it during this year’s fundraiser about long term plans for the museum. The board will be in attendance with many charitable benefactors who will be able to sit in on this proceeding.

  1. Could your institution operate as a ‘for profit’ business?

Only Shasta Sisson’s director/curator writes grants and sponsorships.  She is a volunteer who works 40 hours a week for the summer fall museum schedule.  She suggested that her tenure may be complete in another 3 years at which point there would be another person taking her place. (Editor’s Note: This does not answer the question but the assumption is that changing the paradigm for Shasta Sisson’s operation to reflect a for-profit style would be more time consuming, from a long term perspective, than she is ready to assume.  Jean did explain the dollar breakdown for structuring the institution into a paid employee operation.  The short answer is that the museum would not be able to operate under its current annual income. 

Multi Use Room
This room serves as the board meeting room, outreach classroom, temporary exhibit hall, seminar room, and research room.
The Gift Shop
Shasta Sisson Museum’s gift shop is where a large portion of the museums operating revenue is generated

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