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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Terracotta Warriors

Pam and I have a friend who lives on Vashon Island near Seattle, Washington whom I had not seen since 2003.  We knew that we would stop for a visit but neither of us had any real desire to go in to the city.  What we learned as we go closer to having a real date for arrival was that there was a Terracotta Warrior exhibit in Seattle at the Pacific Science Center.  Well, now we had a good reason to go to the city and it was the only thing we saw in Seattle.  The exhibit was amazing. Non flash photography was encouraged and most people used their phones, however, I used a Canon PowerShot SX720 HS digital camera.  It gave me the opportunity to get some amazing low light shots with very little blurring.

Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This was the guardian at the entrance to the exhibit.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
The minimal armor and complex headgear suggest that this was a high ranking officer. Note the different color of his face than the rest of him. His shoes are also plain style with curved toes.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This view of the high ranking soldier gives details of the uniform. He was not wearing the large scaled. heavy, stone armor but some small scales with layers of heavy leather around his waist and covering his shoulders. His headgear and top knot are also extremely ornate.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
The close up of his head shows details of his hair, beard and headgear. There is so much detail to each of the warriors including ears.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This warrior had a sword under his left palm sticking into the ground. His other hand is making some sort of gesture with the index finger and note the different style of armor he is wearing.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This is the front of the kneeling warrior and his increased armor. As a soldier I do not think that I would enjoy wearing such heavy armor and when I gained rank I think I would readily shed weight and risk having less armor. It would not be a bravery thing just a comfort thing that seems brave.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
Compare the two types of headgear on these two warriors and note the completely different features. Each of the terracotta warriors was completely different and unique just like individual people. This leads to speculation about why they were created in this fashion and what was their purpose.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This kneeling warrior has a large amount of armor on both his shoulders and down his back that signifies his low rank. He also has interesting headgear.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
A detail of the closed shoe officer with light armor and another type of headgear he stands near a scale model of horses that were with the warriors. They are all around six feet tall or a little taller according to the docents. They further stated that this was taller than the average man at the time. I suggested that if I had unlimited resources and population to draw upon as an Emperor, I would have an army of ‘six footers’ just to intimidate my enemies.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
The horse was sculpted to scale as well. This animal has a ‘hair do’ and striking features.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This view of the horse next to the warrior shows the scale and details of the saddle. There is still color on the leather wrap of the horses tail. Such a fashionable animal.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
The kneeling archer in profile showing his bare feet and his headgear.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This is a kneeling archer. He has no armor and simple headgear. His right hand would have held a bow. This example was pieced back together from pieces in the excavation. It is also noteworthy that there is still some color left on the terracotta.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This warrior has more armor on his shoulders and has different headgear.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
A warrior who would have been holding reins to the horses pulling his chariot. Behind him is the excavation as it looks on exhibit in China. Note the huge berm of earth on the right side separating a whole other column of warriors
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
The chariot driver and a better view of the grandeur of the excavation in China. At least six columns are visible in this photo.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
A coated soldier with his hands tucked into the sleeves. This my have been to stay warm and not burden them with gloves.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
The fine detail of the hair and the ear would not be possible for tourists to see if they visited these magnificent warriors in China.

I found the shoes that these statues wear were pretty interesting in their detail.

Terracotta Warrior Exhibit Shoe Study
Plain shoe and most common design across the ten warriors presented in the exhibit.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit Shoe Study
The plain shoe with a bow tied across. It is unclear if the bow was for some tie for the shoe or for the pants.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit Shoe Study
The plain shoe and bow with a different type of pants.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit Shoe Study
A completely enclosed shoe with a seam down the center and a bow. The docents stated that the shoes were a part of the uniform and the more ornate and less armored uniforms signified a higher rank. Higher rank meant they were to be braver than their subordinates. This style of shoe was on a lightly armored soldier, an officer.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit Shoe Study
A plain shoe that has a curved toe space.

There were a smaller set of different terracotta people and I enjoyed the amazing detail they were created with.

Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
There were some terracotta warriors on display from another excavation of another time period and clearly the scale of the warriors grew to life-size proportions.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
These displays have a tremendous amount of detail and amazingly remain heavily colored.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
Note the details of the man’s face and the reigns he is holding.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
Note the details of the tack and the headgear of the horse.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
Such ornaments on a model suggest that the real ones were even more splendid. What purpose did these models serve?

The color on the reproductions is also quite vivid and highlights so much of the detail of the statues.

Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
Notice how clearly the lines of his hair appear under his head covering.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
These examples show the color of the individuals and reinforces the details of not only the terracotta work but then the paint schemes
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
Reproduction warriors painted and standing like they were found. The Pacific Science Center stated that their exhibit provided closer access and the ability to photograph the warriors unlike what we would be able to do in China.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This scene shows what the excavation scene looked like in China. This represents a small part of the scale visitors to the homeland exhibit would see.

There were many other 3rd century artifacts throughout the exhibit and I only took pictures of a few of them.  The real jewel of the exhibit was the life size warriors and that is where my focus remained.

To finish this post here are some pictures of stone armor like what is depicted on the terracotta statues.

Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
Stone armor in original state. There is a lack of decay in the binding holding the stone scales together. This allowed for some very accurate reconstruction of armor that did not fare as well.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
Stone armor helmet reconstruction using original stone scales. As a former soldier who has worn several iterations of combat helmet, this design would have greatly hampered the soldier’s ability to hear.
Terracotta Warrior Exhibit
This is a reconstructed stone armor suit made from actual stone armor scales.

 

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 (http://www.museumsoftware.com/) 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