Greetings from The History Center, Execuitive Director Jason Wright:
To sum it up, we’ve been busy! As you well know, the board of this institution purchased the historic Douglas Mansion on 2nd Avenue in Cedar Rapids with the intent of moving the museum to this amazing facility. The board then put the current museum building (the one on 1st Avenue) on the market. The good and bad news was that it sold much quicker than anyone imagined. This is good, because we now can move forward on the Douglas Mansion initiative. This is bad, because we had to move all the collections and the office in a much shorter time frame than anyone imagined. I need to offer kudos to the staff and volunteers, because they were able to get the entire collection into a temporary storage facility very quickly and safely. Your precious artifacts are well protected and safe. In addition, this hearty crew also moved the administrative offices into the main floor of this facility as well. We are now located at 716 Oakland Road NE in Cedar Rapids. We’re still working through all the details and getting re-connected, but we’re well on our way.
What does this mean for the museum?
First of all, we want you to know that our educational and outreach programming is still ongoing; we haven’t missed a step and are delivering our mission to thousands of students this spring. In addition, the public has access to the archives. All one has to do is call our offices (319-362-1501) and make an appointment. The offices are open 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. If you need to access the archives during the weekend, we can make arrangements for that as well. We hope you do take advantage of this resource.
How soon will the Douglas Mansion open?
That is a tremendous question, and it really doesn’t have a definitive answer yet. The building does need some repairs to make sure it doesn’t sustain any significant damage. This includes addressing the leaky roof. The board of directors is looking into this issue right away.
But this interval of time isn’t about getting the museum up and running in the Douglas Mansion as soon as possible. This is about strategically planning for the future.
The board realizes that it is in an extraordinarily good position to evaluate the entire organization. They have agreed to take the time to examine every aspect. The goal is to create a strategy for the future that will provide the finest programs, exhibits and mission delivery. This goal also includes the creation of a business model that is extremely sustainable. The board is evaluating all sources of revenue to determine the ideal balance of income. This is something not undertaken lightly, nor is it something that can be done in a few days, weeks or months.
As someone who is very invested in the future of the museum, I wanted to let you know as much as is known about the status of The History Museum.
You might also be wondering about my credentials. I have been in non-profit administration at an executive level for over 30 years. Most recently, I served as the vice president for development for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, overseeing the $25 million capital campaign that moved and renovated their facility. Before that, I served as the executive director of the Cedar Rapids Symphony for over four years.
I am honored to serve as the interim executive director of your History Center, and welcome any questions you might have. As you might imagine, there might not be any answers yet, but I promise that I will keep you apprised of our progress.
Yours most sincerely,
Jason S. Wright CFRE