White River Valley Museum Programs
This institution manages a fully professional 10,000 square foot cultural heritage museum and a historic farm dating from the late 1800s. The farm in under restoration and will be open to the public in late 2010, but currently supports an extensive field trip program. The museum's annual budget is approximately $430,000, about 2/3 of which is supplied by the City of Auburn, the other by earned and donated income. We are managed by a board of directors, have a long range plan that is renewed every five years and followed.
The White River Valley Museum produces many programs each year. Our primary program could be considered our exhibits. There are 4500 square feet of award-winning permanent displays and we create 4 temporary exhibits a year. In 2010 those will be: On Track, Photography of the Northern Pacific Railroad by Warren McGee; Household Lace Adds Charm to Your Place; Suffrage and Politically Inspired Historic Quilts; Small Works Big Presents, The Gift of Art. Each year different themes are presented, each designed to highlight some special historic or artistic subject, bringing new audiences to the museum and inspiring new programs.
We orovide fieldtrips for 4 full grades of students in the Auburn School District and students from private, homeschools and scattered other districts. All told we tour over 4500 kids a year. ALL the fieldtrips were developed with teacher committees from the Auburn School District, and are designed to meet curricular needs. Kindergarten students tour the museum and learn about local Native American culture. First grade students tour the Mary Olson Farm and learn where their food comes from. Third graders tour the Museum and learn about occupations. Sixth grade students tour the Farm studying and observing salmon spawning and stream ecology. We are exceptionally proud of this program, its wide audience and our partnership with the Auburn School District. Some fieldtrips are monetarily supported by the Auburn Rotary Club and the Auburn Soroptimits.
We provide free or extremely low cost family programs monthly and more frequently during the summer. Since our neighborhood audience is comprised of low income families, we see serving them as our number one goal. As such admission to the museum is only $1 for seniors and children and $2 for adults. Every Wednesday and 4th Sunday is free, sponsored by area businesses.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
We just offered our first "Night at the Museum" sleepover event. Twenty children ages 7 to 13 brought their sleeping bags, broke into two 'towns' learned about those historic towns (Christopher and Thomas) then as town members created treasure hunts for the other townfolks. They viewed the movie 'Night at the Museum', had a flashlight tour of the museum, snacks and a very good time. Over 45 students wanted to participate, so we offered a second event. By the next morning, each student was fully enthralled with 'their' museum, wanted to become curators, and could talk of nothing else!
Our operating budget has been cut substantially as the City of Auburn has experienced a decrease in tax revenues. One of three staff positions is frozen and the bulk of our non-staff support has been cut. We have innovatively covered for this by raising additional operating grants, but don't know how long this can continue. Next year, 2010 another round of budget cuts are expected. So our primary goal is to raise additional operating funds to fill in this $40,000 annual deficit.