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Community Editorial Panel with Sheila Graham
Community Editorial Panel with Sheila Graham

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word 'museum'? Is it old things? Is it heritage? Is it your grandfather's watch and fob? Is it money? Money? Nope! Well, maybe it should be!  

Our county museum located in Amherst survives through fundraising efforts, donations, and municipal, provincial and federal grants. Fundraising is a never ending, colossally time consuming procedure and one which, frankly, can be very labour intensive with minimal financial results. Government grants, no matter how strongly requests are worded, invariably end up with, what I believe to be, a rubber stamped amount. The museum, but for one employee, relies on volunteers for fundraising activities, for researching your requests, for grounds and flower garden maintenance in preparation for your family reunion/graduation/prom photos, hosting events, updating archives and on and on.
Every three years a funding organization, the Community Museum Assistance Program (CMAP) does an audit to which Nova Scotia museums must maintain a certain standard to qualify. CMAP ensures museums demonstrate they are a benefit to their communities through their collections, facilities, available information and public programs. To ensure completion of these activities, our museum requires numerous volunteers. If volunteers are unavailable, as is becoming the norm in many organizations, the tasks at hand may not be done and the funding not received or received to a lesser degree. Less funding means fewer hours working in the museum which means less output leading to less funding and the cycle continues.
At this time our museum is working with the Curling Club with their organizing of a Four Fathers Bonspiel, as well as input with Charlie Rhindress should Esther Cox funding be received. There is also significant input in rearranging/organizing a data base for inventory of all museum holdings, and involvement with the Wells Foundation Data Base related to local graveyards. Why then, with such varied and extensive tasks at hand doesn't the museum hire more staff and the response is quite simple. There is no money for that. Like many non-profit organizations, there is money enough for one hire, our curator/manager, Natasha Richard.
So here's where you come in.
There's a good chance you are going to die some day. I just read some actuarial tables for Nova Scotia and I hate to break it to you but I saw you in there. And when that time approaches and we all read your obituary, wouldn't it be nice if it indicated that a charitable donation in your name went to the museum? In this way, we can ensure your grandfather's watch and fob will be displayed in a manner befitting such a donation. And by that, I mean they will have their own display space and not be inappropriately squashed on a shelf between a stuffed owl and a petrified bear turd (for which we thank the Alaskan couple visiting her parents in the Joggins area where they chanced upon said petrified donation).
So what I'm suggesting is this. Why not give thought to instructing your lawyer to add a paragraph indicating a bequest to the Cumberland Museum Society to occur upon your death. While this may upset some of your family, it may encourage them to become members (and volunteers) who will then regularly visit to see your grandfather's watch and fob and then, in turn, donate your lovely brooch to sit on the shelf beside it.
The bear turd will be relegated to another, as yet to be determined, location.

Sheila Graham is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.
 

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