Wenatchee Valley Museum will seek out public input to guide its development
Our Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center will soon be embarking on a public engagement effort to understand what issues the community is concerned about, the perceived strengths of the museum and ideas about how it can make meaningful contributions going forward.
In my experience, it is important for key organizations to not just assume that the staff has all the answers and instead reach out to a diverse group of individuals to get fresh perspective and insights.
Our museum has a terrific new leader in Keni Sturgeon, who brought a wealth of experience with both small museums and larger organizations, including her last job at the Pacific Science Center. She inherited a great staff and has added talented newcomers, such as development director Kristin Lodge, who was an important part of the successful Pybus Public Market Foundation capital campaign.
The engagement, using the Redmond-based consultant Bruce Eldredge, will begin with interviews with civic leaders and other key individuals in valley in November. A series of key public meetings are anticipated in the valley during January and February.
Sturgeon told me that in an ideal world, she would like the board to have a strategic direction decided In April.
There are so many aspects to the museum and, since a small organization like that cannot do everything, figuring out how to make the biggest impact with limited resources makes sense.
The museum has done a good job of providing educational programs for youngsters, developing events such as Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which will happen on Friday, Nov. 1, and the multicultural festival, to name a few.
The museum has also been doing some excellent work with exhibits including a current astronomy exhibit called My Sky and the recently completed Beyond the Frame: Inland Bounty, an exhibit of Edward Curtis’s photographs of Native Americans at the turn of the last century along with speakers and presentations allowing us to learn more about Native American culture today.
It’s the engagement with ideas and bring people together to understand our history and dream about the future that inspired Sturgeon to take the job in our valley. The strategic planning effort is the starting point.
“Ultimately, my hope and dream is that we get a better understanding of how this museum fits within this community and how it can serve the community,” Sturgeon told me.
Lodge echoed those sentiments. “It’s such an important organization in the community,” she said. “As we look toward the future, we want to shape it into a community asset and build upon that momentum,” she added.
The community conversations will also guide the museum’s ongoing effort to preserve the past but become more relevant to the future. It’s about drawing people together to inspire curiosity.
I’m excited for our community to lead the discussion of the future of the museum.