UW Geological Museum Accepted into Museum Assessment Program

February 12, 2010

Two important deadlines have been outlined in the process of reinventing the University of Wyoming Geological Museum.

The committee charged with reinventing the Geological Museum, comprised of UW faculty and administrators, at the end of 2009 submitted an application to the Museum Assessment Program offered by the American Association of Museums, and it was notified not long after that it had been accepted into the program.

The program is designed to help museums develop plans for effective operations and management - the same task assigned to the committee, headed by UW Geology and Geophysics Department Head Art Snoke.

Both a self-study and a site survey are scheduled to be completed in the first half of the year.

"The Museum Map Assessment Program through the American Association of Museums is designed to provide professional input into how a museum of any size can meet its mission given its financial situation, personnel, physical facilities and display materials," Snoke says. "This type of advice from museum professionals is exactly what the committee needs to move forward with a plan to reinvent the UW Geological Museum."

What comes after that is key to the museum's future success, Snoke says, and it depends on private fundraising.

The museum closed briefly last summer due to budget cuts to public funds, drawing attention from fans of the museum from around the world. When the museum reopened in August with a part-time schedule, it was with the help of private funds from the UW Foundation. Shortly after that, noted UW supporters Brainerd "Nip" and Anne Mears donated $570,000 to support the museum. Matched by Wyoming state endowment funds, the gift now totals $1.14 million.

A second fund, in memory of noted geologist S.H. Knight, was created later in 2009. To date, $74,000 has been raised, and because of fund matching rules, it is now eligible for matching state funds.

"For the perpetuity and overall success of the museum, it is essential that the available state matching monies associated with the Geological Museum S.H. Knight Memorial Fund are used to their fullest extent. If we can develop an endowment of about $2.5 million, then the Geological Museum can have a yearly operating budget of about $100,000," Snoke says.

"If we don't reach that endowment goal, we will continue to have limited hours, will not be able remodel antiquated displays, and will not be able to hire professional personnel for the museum. We sincerely hope that the supporters of the UW Geological Museum, both individuals and corporations, will step forward with generous financial donations to help us reinvent the Geological Museum."

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