Lakewood Heritage Center, Lakewood, Colorado

Institution Management Questions & Answers with the Administrator Betsy Bowers and Caitlin M. Lewis, Curator.

The Lakewood Heritage Center is located in the suburban city just west of Denver, Colorado.  Incorporated in 1969, it has reached a point where growth has slowed due to a lack of land for continued expansion.  Lakewood has light business and industry with sprawling suburbs but also has access to city parks with great views.  Lakewood is situated on the foothills of the front range of the Colorado Rockies and is a quick drive east of Red Rocks where dinosaur footprints and an outdoor natural amphitheater are just part of the grandeur.  We camped in the city owned Bear Creek Lake Park where people bike, hike, swim, fish, and camp.  The Lakewood Heritage Center is located at Bel Mar Park and has a large outdoor facility (campus) as well as an indoor museum with several exhibits and no cover charge. The campus and museum are part of a hobby farm that belonged to a local, prominent woman, May Bonfil.  A zealous developer who built a business park on its location destroyed her mansion but the estate remains.

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

The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) of Colorado is responsible for funding this institution with state historic preservation funds.  This is the only source of funding although there is an event venue that could be leveraged into a profit generating facility. 

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

There is no board, per se, but the Lakewood, CO, City Council serves in a board capacity. 

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

The Lakewood Heritage Center is heavily invested in their volunteers who are managed at the city level.  This volunteer manager deals with ‘volgisitcs’ balancing more than 100 people shared across the entire city.

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

Since the Heritage Center develops no income, relying completely on the city of Lakewood and provisions by the SCFD, there is not any direct relationship to the mission statement.

  1. How involved is the institution with social media?

Pokémon Go is across the entire Heritage Center campus although no exact count is available.  The city marketing resources promotes all the social media and is not always institution specific.  There is a Facebook page specific to the institution and has between two and three thousand followers. 

  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? e.: M-Disc
    2. Frequency of system back up
    3. What kind of training do you have for staff and volunteers on the MCS?

The Heritage Center uses PastPerfect operating on city servers.  The city provides the necessary IT and backup at regular intervals.  The amount of training provided to staff and qualified volunteers are based on the needs of the individual and their project.  

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

The Heritage Center has a collection policy but is admittedly out of date.  The collection policy is one of the topics for the master plan and strategic plan this coming year. 

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

Deaccessioning is conducted with quarterly meetings with staff, volunteers, and solicitations of the community.  The City Council approves the deaccessioning policy. 

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

The Heritage Center has a master plan that is long range and a strategic plan that covers short range planning.  The City Council is the approving authority for both plans.  The center has a professional consultancy for local non-profits that started the Master Plan.  The Lakewood citizens, volunteers, and local businesses that use the facility were all interviewed for the master plan. 

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

The Lakewood Heritage Center’s expectation is for revenue generating in the near future.  They are partnering with the local associations and businesses approved by the administrator first then approved by the City Council. 

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