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Museum closing for second January

Additional funding cuts lead to decision

Brookside Museum will close for the month of January for the second time after facing financial issues.

Brookside Museum will close for the month of January for the second time after facing financial issues.

— “So the good news is no educational programs will be affected,” said Houle.

Unlike last year, the decision to close will affect employees.

Obermayer said the museum employs two full-time workers (including Houle), two part-time employees and two county employees paid through a work grant separate from the museum’s budget. In 2011, Houle continued to work while the museum was closed, writing grants and planning programs, and the other employees took vacation time. This year, none of the employees will be paid for four weeks.

“Last year was more of a pilot run to see what would happen if we did have to close for a time,” said Obermayer.

The museum will reopen on Jan. 31.

“It just makes sense to close now when it will impact the least amount of people in the community,” said Houle.

Besides cuts to funding, Obermayer said revenue has been impacted because fewer schools are sending students to participate in education programs put on at Brookside. Typically, local schools can pay for the programs through arts and education grants, but more often schools are unable to pay the transportation fees to bus students to the museum. Instead, volunteers and employees have been offering to visit the schools so students will not miss out on the lessons.

“We’ve done a lot of fundraising over the summer, but still haven’t totally met our goals going into next year,” said Obermayer. “Not a one of us is a professional fund raiser, so we might need to find someone willing to help us in the future. We already write tons of grants, but often they are too narrowly focused on what the money can be used for.”

Unless the museum has to permanently close, Brookside’s board does not plan to close beyond the month of January in 2013.

Obermayer said if the museum was faced with permanent closure, the board would look to see how to staff the museum differently while still providing quality programming. In 2014, the board may look at consolidating educational programs with agencies that offer similar ones. It also may change the volunteer program to allow the helpers to step into more leadership roles.

“We have a very strong volunteer force with considerable knowledge and interests,” she said.

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