Williamson Museum, Georgetown, Texas
Institution Management Questions and Answers
The Williamson County Museum is located in the historic part of Georgetown, Texas. The museum is located within a historic bank building and maintains an antique vault. The museum has just purchased two historic houses that it plans to use as part of their expanding educational outreach program. They are also the owners and custodians of the historic county courthouse located across the street from their main location.
Most of the downtown has been renovated either maintaining their historic status through the Texas Historical Commission or constructed with period looking facades. Williamson County shares a border with Bell County (see posts about Bell County and the BCM) and both museums share the monthly tours of the Gault archaeological site. http://www.gaultschool.org/
Williamson Museum curator Ann Evans was kind enough to give an hour interview where ten questions were asked regarding the operation and management of the institution.
- What processes fund the institution and at what percentages?
The museum is less than half county funded because they expanded faster than the county budget. The staff are county employees with county benefits. The rest of the museum is funded through membership donations, door donations (box), larger donations (not membership related), grants the gift store, and courthouse rentals.
- How involved are the board members with the operation of the institution?
The board members are very active with fundraising including planning and advertising for the museum’s largest annual event. The board members are from the local county and recruited in part by the museum director and the board itself.
- What processes do you have for maintaining a volunteer pool and what level of involvement can they attain?
Williamson Museum has a Volunteer and Visitor Services Coordinator, Nicole Hewitt, who is highly praised for her skill in maintaining and managing a strong pool of volunteers. The volunteers are younger than many institutions where I have volunteered and visited and according to Ann, this group is quite diverse. The VSC uses Volunteer Match (https://www.volunteermatch.org/) alongside attending both county and retirement community hosted volunteer fairs.
- What relationship does fundraising have to the mission statement?
The museum’s mission statement is not related to fundraising although, is admittedly critical to the institution. This is explained by the fact that educational outreach is the primary mission of the institution alongside the need to “…collect, preserve and exhibit items relating to the rich culture and heritage of Williamson County.” http://williamsonmuseum.org/about-us/
- How involved is the institution with social media?
The WCM maintains a strong social media presence although, there was an expressed need for greater involvement. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are listed in the order of greatest interactions although it was only recently that FB overtook Twitter. They have an internally managed website hosted by WordPress (https://wordpress.com/) although they originally had one hosted by the Williamson County I.T. department. Ann said that they have several Pokemon Go located within the two main facilities and that the number of intended captors has slowed in the past months as the novelty wains.
- What museum collection software (MCS) is used and where is the data housed?
- Is it stored on local servers, the cloud, and is there any backup? ie: M-Disc
- Frequency of system back up
- What kind of training do you have for staff and volunteers on the MCS?
The museum uses PastPerfect Museum Software (http://museumsoftware.com) for most of the operation of the institution including its diverse collection. Their computer system is not linked to the Williamson County servers and I.T. department. They have a locally contracted host that backs up their system nightly. They also use a shared drive and keep external backups on a standalone hard drive for specific material.
Volunteers are able to access PastPerfect on a case-by-case basis and Education interns and collections volunteers also receive special training. Collections volunteer training is based on their level of interest and skill.
- How often do you update the collection policy if you have one?
The Williamson County Museum opened in 2003 and the collections policy was written in 2007 with the last update finished in 2015.
- What do you do with items to be de-accessioned?
The museum is completing its 3rd inventory for de-accessioning although they have not had any potential items identified yet.
- 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…)
Williamson County Museum has a strategic plan that was updated in 2015 and involved the staff as well as the board. They do not maintain a long term or short term plan at this point. The museum’s focus is an education first then conservation focus institution.
- Could your institution operate as a ‘for profit’ business?
The board does continue a dialogue about profitability in regards to mission acceptability, which is clearly focused on education.