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BEGINNING A MUSEUM The introduction to this pamphlet makes it plain that we think the kind of museum best worth having in your community is the kind that is alive and active, is doing some rather definite work in the field of entertainment, and of enlightenment and education. But it is demonstrated by that marvelous volume of museum biographies, The Directory of American Museums, published in 1910 by the Buffalo Museum of Natural Sciences for the Association of American Museums, that museums are not born of definite educational or recreational intent as often as they are of the moods of hobby-riding collectors, of self-centered enthusiasts and of the memorial-seeking rich. Perhaps this is well. The world needs variety more than it needs standards. There can be no standards in museums. Museums must be born of enthusiasm and grow through unselfish devotion; and enthusiasm and unselfish devotion must be permitted to choose their own objectives and their own methods. · If, then, you find in your community a few who are likeminded with yourself in believing that your fellow citizens would be amused, and instructed, if they had one of those vague entities, a museum, added to their other public institutions, you will be wise to proceed somewhat as follows:
From print, conversation and correspondence, discover how museums have found their beginnings in towns like yours. Nothing will here be better worth your investigation than the volume of Museum Biographies above referred to.
Next, write to museums near by and ask if they have any suggestions to make. Not infrequently it happens that enthusiastic collectors are giving aid, sympathy and collections to a museum in another town than their own, all unknown to their fellow citizens.
Before writing to museums, consult the list of them herein and see if any on the list seem, by proximity or character, to be especially well fitted to assist you. Your State Museum may be quite ready to give you aid as well as advice.
Having gained a few data on methods of museum-founding, make careful inquiry in your own community to discover collectors, hobby-riders, scientists, teachers seeking such help as a museum can give, and public-spirited men and women of means who have museum leanings or are open to all suggestions for. general advancement.
Then get the ear of the newspapers, and ask them to print a few notes on the advantages of museums, laying particular stress on the good points of the kind of museum that you think would most interest the museum-minded persons you have dis; covered.
If the indications are favorable, call a general meeting of all who would care to hear a discussion of the subject of a local museum.
This first discussion is of great importance; rather, it is of great importance that it fit the situation precisely. If you import a speaker for the occasion, let him not be an expert in any part of the field your coming museum may promise to cover. Such a speaker will be naturally inclined to dwell on his own specialty, and thus to fit the inclinations of a few only of your audience. The best way is to have all the speaking done by your own acquaintances in the community itself. Select for the purpose men and women, old and young, who already have an interest in the subject, and let each tell briefly why he or she looks with favor on the museum idea, and what seem to be the indications that others will oppose it. If an outsider is called in to start the movement, he should be thoroughly familiar with local conditions and possibilities and should talk chiefly on a museum's general influence, on the specific steps that should be taken in organizing it, and, perhaps, on the absolutely indispensable items of expense that must be met in its earlier years.
If the attendance and the interest in the discussion seem to warrant it, the organization of an association to promote a local museum can be effected at once. You can frankly confess that you hoped for good results from the meeting and had come prepared therefor.
The proceedings could then take the following course:
You suggest that a chairman be appointed and you name a proper person for the position. Then ask if your nomination is seconded and, if it is, put his election to vote.
He takes the chair and you suggest that a person you name act as secretary, and he is elected also. · Not infrequently, on occasions like the one we are considering, the person most interested, or most given to management, simply says that if there is no objection he will ask Mr. Blank to act as chairman and Mr. So-and-so as secretary. This saves time and is usually quite satisfactory.
You now say that you purpose to offer to those present two motions and to put in nomination five persons as officials ; but that before you do this you wish to call to the attention of all the fact that, while your proceedings may seem highhanded, or cut-and-dried, or both, it should be noted that, though your proposals may result in the creation, within five minutes, of a complete organization, that organization will be tentative only, and may be modified or set aside entirely if, after a short trial, it is not found to be satisfactory.
You then move that it is the sense of the meeting that it should proceed with the formation of an organization for the founding and maintenance of a museum in the community.
This is carried.
You then say that in conference with some of those present and with others not present, and after a study of like institutions
in other places, you have prepared a form of organization which the secretary will read.
He reads as follows:
The Anyplace Museum League 1 The name of this organization is the Anyplace Museum League.
2 Its purpose is to establish and maintain at Anyplace a museum, for the reception and exhibition of articles of art, science, history, ethnology, industry, and technology, and for the promotion of education by the use of such articles in any proper place, and for the encouragement and management of the study of the arts, industries and sciences, and to those ends it shall acquire, as occasion permits, such real estate and personal property as may be convenient and necessary for the purpose.
3 The officers shall be President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Director.
4. These officers shall form the Executive Committee, which shall have full charge of all affairs of the League when the League itself is not in session.
5 The duties of the several officers shall be those usually assigned thereto in organizations of the character of this one.
6 Anyone may become a member on payment of the annual dues of one dollar; but shall cease to be a member one year and one month after the date of receipt of said dues by the Treasurer.
7 The annual meeting for the election of officers shall be held on -
8 Regular meetings shall be held on the -- of each month except in July, August and September.
9 The President can call a special meeting at any time, and must call one on the written request of three members.
10 This constitution can be amended at any regular or annual meeting by a majority vote, if notice of proposed changes has been given at the next preceding meeting.
You can call attention to the brevity and simplicity of the proposed form of organization, and to the fact that it can easily be changed, or even voted out of existence. You can very wisely add that, in discussing the subject with friends of the movement, it seemed better to organize at once, no matter how simply, and to let better plans and methods come by trial and experience, than to attempt to arrive at the last word of wisdom by the machinery of committees and prolonged discussions. Also you can very properly say that if and when the property and activities of the league become important, more elaborate regulations, and probably a charter, will be needed and will undoubtedly be forthcoming.
You can then move that this constitution be adopted.
You then say that you will, as you have promised, suggest the names of the officers. You say, of course, that you do this with some reluctance and only after discussing the matter with those you will name and with several others who had expressed themselves as interested in the organization; and that, of course, your presentation of the names is a nomination only, and that other nominations will be welcome and quite as proper to be made as your own.
Your nominees will be, we assume, elected. Advice on their selection may seem superfluous; but it is not generally understood that activity and ready attention to public, as well as private, business, are more important in the persons who are to launch and manage a new public enterprise, than are age, wealth, or literary or scientific leanings, Much is to be done in the beginning, even of a small and humble organization in a small community. The president should be aggressive. He need not be a leading citizen. As time goes on, and work