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American Independence Museum's Whole Staff Laid Off

The museum's board said the cost-cutting move was a necessity as it reorganizes.

The American Independence Museum board laid off its entire staff to "secure the museum's financial health."

The non-profit museum runs the historic Ladd-Gilman House and Folsom Tavern downtown. It also organizes the American Independence Festival, which was held for the 20th time this year.

Randall A. Hammond, president of the museum's board, announced the layoffs in a statement Saturday.

“This was a very difficult decision to make,” Hammond said. “As a board, it's our fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the museum is financially sound in order to deliver on its mission. We're focused on moving forward and developing a new operational plan for the museum.”

The affected staff include:

  • Executive Director Gail Nessell Colglazier
  • Marketing and Development Director Julie Tiebout
  • Curator Wendy Bergeron
  • Programs and Visitors Services Coordinator Stephanie Rohwer

Hammond said the remaining fall programming has been canceled. A "local property manager" will oversee the museum grounds, he added.

Below is the museum's statement about the layoffs:

The Board of Governors of the American Independence Museum (AIM), a non-profit museum and nationally-recognized historic property, is working towards a renewed strategic and operational plan. As an immediate action, and to secure the museum's financial health, the museum has reduced four staff positions. To minimize disruptions, these actions coincide with the museum's customary seasonal closure from November 1 – mid-April.

“This was a very difficult decision to make,” says Randall A. Hammond, president of the AIM Board of Governors. “As a board, it's our fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the museum is financially sound in order to deliver on its mission. We're focused on moving forward and developing a new operational plan for the museum.”

During the off-season, AIM's board will focus on three operational strategies: a comprehensive review of museum programming; the launch of an initiative to recruit local community leaders onto the Board of Governors; and a review of operating expenses and necessary staffing levels. A local property manager has been retained to maintain the museum's historic Ladd-Gilman House, Folsom Tavern, and grounds throughout the off-season. Previously scheduled fall programming has been canceled.

Annual fund contributions will be applied towards ongoing efforts to preserve the museum's collection and formulate a plan to reopen “with a strong financial foundation,” says Hammond.

“Since opening to the public more than 20 years ago, the American Independence Museum has been a cherished community and educational resource,” says Eric MacDonald, vice president of the AIM Board of Governors and an Exeter resident. “We're committed to making it a valuable resource for generations to come.”

Opened to the public in 1991, the American Independence Museum encompasses the 1721 Ladd-Gilman House, a National Landmark property, and the Folsom Tavern, built c. 1775. The permanent collection of documents chronicling the nation’s founding includes an original Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence and early drafts of the U.S. Constitution. The museum's mission is to be a place for the study, research, education and interpretation of the American Revolution and of the role that New Hampshire, Exeter, and the Gilman family played in the founding of the new republic.

T.H. Gray November 05, 2012 at 06:09 PM
And here's why we feel boards shouldn't be allowed to run museums. http://peabodyslament.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/board-of-trustees/ T.H. Gray, Director-Curator American Hysterical Society

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