Sandra: Those in the know in that community may have a ready answer to my simple question, “Why are there two local museums with similar missions operating at the same time in the first place?”
I would think that funders in that community would have resisted supporting two organizations if they are duplicating their services. Worse, when funding is considered, chances are the stronger of the two will be favored over the other.
If their missions are uniquely different, then a partnership or collaboration of sorts would be considered. Collaboration can be a good thing. But, going too far with the commingling of programs, staff, collections, etc., can negatively affect the giving wishes and general understanding of the museums’ respective donors. The respective identities that the museums have established can be blurred, even lost. And it can raise real problems with the respective governance responsibilities of the Boards of Trustees and their bylaws, for starters.
But, being what seems to be missions so alike, strongly suggests to me that a merger is in order, though the merging of two struggling organizations does not necessarily bode well for the success of the one emerging organization.
Getting together in any event, regardless if both are struggling, the one struggling the most almost invariably slows and weighs down the other. Resentment and frustration follow. This fact must be recognized early and acted upon no matter which path the two museums travel together.
To my way of thinking, there has got to be some serious getting together of the museums’ respective leadership to convene a joint long-range strategic planning session. From it, will evolve a fruitful collaboration, or a successful merger, or they continue on their separate paths having a better idea how they can function well on their own.
Tony Poderis http://www.raise-funds.com
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