It is believed that there are as many as 1,000 potential collecting institutions in Maine, with only about half of those being connected to a larger support network. Funded by a grant from the Davis Family Foundation, MCIOP seeks to address this issue and to slow and prevent the further loss of Maine’s cultural heritage by indentifying these organizations and connecting them to a larger community of collecting institutions in Maine.
Presently, vital information about preservation, funding, and promotional opportunities is not reaching many organizations, especially smaller historical societies. Numerous all-volunteer, less-tech-savvy institutions are being overlooked by national and regional organizations whose outreach has “gone paperless.” Many of these local organizations--predominanty created and run by volunteers--rise and fall based on the strength of their membership. When volunteers leave, they often take their institutional memory and knowledge of statewide support systems with them. The next generation of leadership must often start anew without the knowledge that help exists.
The first phase of the project includes compiling lists of cultural organizations gleaned from many different museum, library and state associations; proactively contacting every municipality in Maine to gather information about local cultural organizations; and reaching out to members of the community of Maine collecting institutions to provide new and updated information about their organization of others. The first phase of the project dovetails with current efforts by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to complete a national museum census, with the assistance of professional membership organizations like MAM.
Once the organizations have been identified, MCIOP will gather information about them and their collections via 24 question survey, connect these organizations with information about the services available to them, and sponsor low-cost much-needed workshops in the more rural parts of the state. For information on workshops already scheduled check out our 2013 Spring Workshop Series.
By connecting with these organizations and providing them with essential knowledge about how to sustain themselves in today’s world, MAM will strengthen local collecting institutions, retain and disseminate firm knowledge about them and the collections they manage, and position itself to target resources to support Maine’s cultural heritage. This project also lays the groundwork for such future projects as providing technical assistance, providing support for collections in crisis, connecting small organizations with interns who can provide much-needed assistance, and better targeting ongoing efforts in education, visibility, and advocacy. For more information in the Maine Cultural Institutions Outreach Project (MCIOP), contact MAM directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.