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Author Topic: Introductory Questions for Museum Staff  (Read 9412 times)
Brent Trout
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« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2014, 12:08:11 AM »

This was an excellent thread. I have worked under several different directors and usually the background was at least a masters and some business experience. Mark Allen did hit the nail on the head with job descriptions. Though I will say in a small museum environment you can be everything from marketing to the maintenance person. Our biggest struggle is defining a solid mission statement and figuring out where the museum fits within the city.

I recall talking to a regular the other day about putting new panels out (something definitely lacking) and having the person tell me how they hate when a museum has too much stuff to read. I personally cringed, but some people lack the ability to see things from an outsider who is not a submarine buff.

And yes, I too, personally cringe to see things out in the elements unprotected and rotting away. Especially dealing with people who fail to realize that the damage compounds until a situation is unrecoverable.

The volunteer situation is rough. In my current position it has been rough being tossed in a situation where quite a few volunteers felt they lacked direction and solid leadership. It is definitely hard to repair wounds overnight. At other museums and libraries I either volunteered or worked at, the volunteers and staff seemed so territorial, sometimes forgetting the greater good.

I do hate to see anyone walk away. I hope wherever you end up the staff appreciates you, unlike how it has been in the past.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 12:15:08 AM by Brent Trout » Logged
Darrin
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« Reply #16 on: August 17, 2014, 07:56:13 AM »

Brent,

I have a question for you, have you tried to bring all of the volunteers in to include the ones that are leaving/left or the ones that have been "banned" and set down with them and just talk with ALL of them to hear what they have seen and said and done to try to make the museum better?

Because if you haven't it seems to me like you are trying to throw your hands up in the air and give up on them without even trying to get to the bottom of why they left and what would it take to get them all back if possible.

Hopefully you will find the cause as to why the volunteers left and correct it before it is entirely too late to try to bring them back and it sounds like some have written off your park to work in, it is up to you to fix the situation

Darrin
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Brent Trout
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« Reply #17 on: August 17, 2014, 09:03:01 AM »

Darrin,

Yes, I have actually talked to nearly all of the volunteers and the former park manager to try figure out the problem. I did not simply throw my hands up in the air and give up on them. We have been trying to meet up, but it has been difficult working schedules together.

The cause I believe is long term neglect from management. Something done a long time before I got here. These wounds will definitely not heal overnight. Only one person is actually banned and that in itself is something that took forever to figure out if it was official or just claimed by previous management.

When working with a board and the city, things take time. I have so many problems that I am fighting with daily that require so much red tape that it gets frustrating. I hope we can work things out because it is hard to find reliable volunteers with as much passion as these guys.
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Jim
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« Reply #18 on: August 17, 2014, 03:00:54 PM »

I've been pretty quiet about all this, but this is the same road version 2.0.

Yes, I have actually talked to nearly all of the volunteers and the former park manager to try figure out the problem.

Not all, and speaking with the former park manager is a waste of time as he is one of the biggest reasons why the volunteers left.

The cause I believe is long term neglect from management. Something done a long time before I got here.

This was happening up until and after the day you started.

These wounds will definitely not heal overnight. Only one person is actually banned and that in itself is something that took forever to figure out if it was official or just claimed by previous management.

Especially, if no extra effort on the part of the park is done to MAKE a meeting time happen

When working with a board and the city, things take time. I have so many problems that I am fighting with daily that require so much red tape that it gets frustrating. I hope we can work things out because it is hard to find reliable volunteers with as much passion as these guys.

So, as of now The volunteers who are responsible for:

* Building the aft smoking deck to be large enough to put a gun on it;
* placing both 20mm and 40mm on the boat
* restoring the 40mm to movement functionality
* rebuilding the deck
* putting A/C on the boat
* building the website
* a myriad of smaller projects including books and information for the museum

Are walking away.  This is on you now Brent.  Excuses about time and red tape are lame and worn out on us.

For reference, the former park manager and board are WHY you are where you are now, regardless of what they say.  If they knew what to do, they would have but they don't.  Simple as that.  It they're your model for a plan and success you've already failed.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 03:02:50 PM by Jim » Logged
MWALLEN
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2014, 04:40:18 PM »

Well - thought I'd add my 2 cents on this.

Quote
The volunteer situation is rough. In my current position it has been rough being tossed in a situation where quite a few volunteers felt they lacked direction and solid leadership. It is definitely hard to repair wounds overnight.

We didn't feel we lacked direction...there was no direction.  The volunteer groups at the sub (Relief Crew, BLHA, HAMS) all operated pretty much independently of each other.  All did good stuff for the sub/park and former mgmt. basked in our accomplishments.  Basically, we made him look good.  In addition, we didn't ask you to solve the problems overnight.  We are/were aware of the mess left by former mgmt.  We understand/understood you needed time to get your feet underneath you.  Maybe our over-eagerness seemed pushy to you...but we were happy to see a change and the opportunities that comes with change.

Quote
At other museums and libraries I either volunteered or worked at, the volunteers and staff seemed so territorial, sometimes forgetting the greater good.

There may be some territorial issues...but they are minor and I don't think anyone of the groups has lost focus on the big picture.  What I saw was an apathetic board that didn't show up for functions...I saw a foundation that would not release money or if they did, went to minor things (archival stuff) instead of important things (mast).  I also saw former mgmt. lose focus when cupid hit him with an arrow.  His thoughts were in Arizona instead of the park.  How else can you explain the park being closed during posted operational hours...and patrons emailing me bitching about it...only to come and find out the mgmt. closed the park and took off for Arizona?  No, if anyone lost sight of the big picture...it was former mgmt.

Quote
Yes, I have actually talked to nearly all of the volunteers and the former park manager to try figure out the problem.

What we need is an official meeting...not emails and PMs.  Emotion and intent is hard to ascertain over those mediums.  You need to hear from us...in person...what our frustrations are.  All I will say is that things were not handled well on both sides.  The website and letter were the result of months of frustration trying to deal with former mgmt. who would not work with the persons involved...who would not present anything to the board...and in fact discouraged us attending board meetings.  Now we know why...because the report to the board was that everything was OK...even though the park started to deteriorate based on website photos and former mgmt. didn't want the truth out that the volunteers were doing most of the heavy lifting at the park.  Once we left...it was all on former mgmt. and the freebee help he had.  Pictures don't lie.  And I'll agree with Jim on this one...talking to the former park manager isn't the answer because he was the reason, at least for the relief crew, that we walked away.  (On a side note, I'm still waiting for an explanation on why he is now the park historian...a position I held for 4 years.  I've not had a formal correspondence of my dismissal from this position).

Quote
putting A/C on the boat

I do know that the former mgmt. is directly responsible for the departure of Vaughn and Mary.  Vaughn got all the A/C units/supplies donated and then he installed it all himself.  The former manager upset Mary which upset Vaughn and they left.  Vaughn told me that he stopped by to check the units and the former manager told Vaughn that he "wasn't authorized to install the A/C units.".  Vaughn told me that he told the former manager that he would be happy to remove them at which point the former manager backed off.  I can't understand why he would treat Vaughn and Mary like that.

Quote
Only one person is actually banned and that in itself is something that took forever to figure out if it was official or just claimed by previous management.

Ah...like Obama's transparency claim.  One person is banned.  We don't know who...that person has not been notified.  Is it official or not?  Who knows.  It's like "hey, let's build a bridge...but I'm not giving you any wood to build it with". 

The board and former mgmt. got butt-hurt.  Yeah, this might not have been the best method to use.  But the banned person tried to work with the former management but apathy got in the way.  Frustration took over and the website and letter were the result.  What's done is done.  Instead of being reactionary, the board needs to take a look at what's going on at the park.  Either fix it or get off the board.  After all, isn't this why they serve?  Or is it all a resume-building smoke screen.  Everyone needs to sit down...discuss what's best for the sub/park...lift the ban...ask the volunteers back.  All I know is that people aren't going to wait forever for those in power to figure it out.  There are other places that want/need volunteers.  And I know others are looking at them very closely.  Balls in your court.  But I forget...this is Muskogee.  The board won't budge and the foundation won't part with any money until a certain person dies.  And in the end...the park and submarine loses.

Hate me...disagree with me...love me...I don't care.  I've invested time (since 1998) and an untold amount of my own money to that place.  I've seen a lot of managers and board members come and go.  Some good...some mediocre...some horrible.  I've weathered it all.  But now I am about fed up with the freaking politics...and I know others are too.

I've voiced my concerns other places here.  I get the general feeling that no one cares.  And if no one cares...then why should I invest more time and money?  This is my last post.  I'm tired of it all and have other things I want to do.  I will keep the Batfish website up because I did it for the crew and the submarine.  The park pages were always secondary.  The domain name is paid for another 5 years.  I'll re-evaluate then.

Cheers,

Mark
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"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" - Edmund Burke
Lance Dean
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« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2014, 12:30:11 AM »

All I know is this: when I first started fooling with museum submarines around 2007, many museum subs had miraculous rescue stories, such as the Cavalla, Torsk, and Drum (to name a few). These were submarines that were on the brink of existence until a big volunteer movement got behind them and saved them.

Enter the Batfish crew. When I became an Associate member of the USSVI, everyone was buzzing about the work that was being done on the Batfish, by VOLUNTEERS, and not only were they volunteers, but they were mostly (or completely) NON-SUBMARINERS, and to top even that, they were young guys! In Oklahoma, too.

Such momentum, so many good things done by good people. It's a shame it stopped.

Now instead of anyone talking about restoring anything anymore, all anyone wants to talk about is flat out saving the Clamagore and the Ling from total scrapping. Yes, that's important, but I fear that without a good grae of volunteers, the Batfish could just as easily become another one of the "save" efforts.

I have personally met Mark Allen, read his books, own two of the Batfish Crew t-shirts (that I wear often to this day).

In my opinion, Mark A., Mark S., Travis, Jim, Correy, and others are all great guys who were doing great things for the Batfish. They had the attention of so many. So sad to see it come to a stop.
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Darrin
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« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2014, 11:44:27 AM »

Brent,

Thank you for starting to find out what happened with the Volunteer crew and yes that is a start however you need to clean your calendar and your staffs calendar off on a Saturday or Sunday to bring not only the Volunteer Crew in but also the Re-enactors in to find out WHY they truly left and HOW this can be rectified.  The reason why I have asked you to bring in the Re-enactors is because they ALSO have put a lot of their time and monies into making your museum come alive once more and now that they are gone also YOUR museum does not have that extra resource to bring in tourista's

Both Jim and Mark have made very very valid and specific points as to why they left and as to why they will NOT return to your museum. I have known Mark Allen for a number of years now and I have talked to him through email's and phone calls and watched him and HIS crew of volunteers do some incredible things onboard with little help from the museum staff.

IF you build it the tourista's will come, when you neglect it they will leave and NOT come back as they once did and then you will wonder why they no longer come back...  you can try to blame the economy HOWEVER it isn't the economy that is keeping them away because they WILL spend their hard earned monies in your park if you maintain it and improve it at every chance you get.

I STRONGLY recommend that you clear your and your staff's calendar off before it is too late and the Vol's and the Re-enactors walk away for good.  Mark and Jim have asked for a meeting with you and I am sure that IF you contact Correy Willey he will also be more than happy to show up and tell you what he has seen over the years at the museum.

Jim and Mark and the rest of the Batfish crew, hold on for a while longer and lets see IF this situation can be resolved and you all can go back to doing what you ALL love doing once more

Darrin
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Darrin
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« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2014, 11:50:13 AM »

BTW Brent,

I have a call into a museum that I used to Volunteer for in Va regarding their plaques (displays) and the new stands to hopefully get you set up with the company that did that to HELP you properly display all of your Macro Artifacts and even your Micro Artifacts...

With that being said IF you and your staff along with the volunteers can come to an agreement to work together once more I will also get you in contact with others to help with your lighting issues and display issues inside of your building to try to HELP you make the experiance better for the tourista's whom are paying the bills

Darrin
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Brent Trout
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« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2014, 01:07:04 PM »

Lance,

I fully agree with you that if neglect sets in that the Batfish too could become a save project.

Darrin,

Luckily Correy and portions of the BLHA still do come and put on events for us and for that I am grateful. The living history days are truly a great in that they not only generate extra revenue for the museum, but they are also a great resource for a museum with a staff of one, that often has troubles giving guided tours without advance notice.

I talk to Correy frequently and he has been a great resource in learning about the things that have happened in the past with the museum and some of the problems that have developed over time between the management and volunteers.

I am hopeful that we can meet soon, but until we hire a part-time staff member (hopefully this Wednesday) clearing my schedule on a Saturday is extremely difficult. Correy suggest a dinner on a Saturday after the museum has been closed where we can all talk about moving forward in the future with a positive direction. I have been in contact with Mark Sarsfield and I am working on the differences that have developed between him and our board.

I would appreciate any contacts in regards to generating new plaques or signs for our artifacts that are missing labels. We recently had volunteers go through and repaint our stands and I am eager to actually get a label on them. I would also appreciate help with the lighting and display issues in the museum. Mark Sarsfield sent me an excellent plan to reorganize the museum and modernize it past the dated look it currently has. I have been on the hunt to get rid of my pawnshop display cases and actually move into tiered shelving!

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Mark Sarsfield
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« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2014, 03:18:46 PM »

Brent,

  The proposed museum layout was either Jim and/or Correy's ideas.  As far as content and layout go, Correy would be the better resource for that subject matter.  Jim has a lot of industry contacts that were willing to (in 2013) pony up materials to make the project cheap and Jim and I were going to volunteer our time (along with anyone else) to get the work done.  The idea was to crank it out in about a weekend.  The economy and Obamacare have been kicking businesses between the legs, though.  So, I'm not sure how generous most of those businesses would be today.

  What really annoyed us is that we knew it was a good idea with a limited window of opportunity and it was quickly discarded as an idea "that the board would never approve", according to the manager.  What it really meant was more work for a certain individual that liked surfing the net and playing computer games all day.   tickedoff


Mark
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 04:53:07 PM by Mark Sarsfield » Logged


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Mark Sarsfield
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Jim
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« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2014, 04:49:46 PM »

Actually, that idea was not the board's dismissal, it was solely the manager's.  He again played the "there is no money" card.
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Mike
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« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2014, 12:01:10 AM »


Now, having said that – I am not looking to give the impression that I’m trolling for whatever dirty laundry that is handy and incriminating, but as the old saying goes “you can't fix it if you don’t know what is broken”…


I've been reading very quietly and intently what has been posted here, and while I don't have much to contribute, I just wanted to repeat what my words from before, lest someone suspects otherwise. My curiosity was/is never meant to inflame nor to antagonize, and if this is a career path I am actively considering, aside from volunteering (time constraints and distance works against me at the moment), posing a question or two here is the next logical step.

The words here have neither dissuaded me nor proven to be a glimpse of the man behind the curtain, so to speak. The challenges/issues that have been brought up are some of the same family/genus/species that I've dealt with before and others will probably deal with years down the line. The bigger issue is, and should be: "where to go from here?"... For me, while it may not be etched in stone that I will end up working in a museum in some sort of capacity, I will no doubt be faced with similar problems wherever I find myself.

For Jim, Mark, Lance, Mark, Darrin, and Brent - I sincerely hope that the answers/concessions/resolution come smoothly. Again, I mean no ill by my random questions.

I didn't see this anywhere else, but I recently came across this and thought I would share, as it seems relevant (though not really for the Drum, but for preservation and resolution in general)

http://www.admiraltylawguide.com/circt/5thusscabot.html


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Henry Rollins
Mark Sarsfield
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« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2014, 12:34:43 PM »

Interesting court case, but Batfish is land-locked, too, unless a flood carries her away.  Supposedly, the previous mgt fixed the moorings.  Time will tell...
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Regards,
Mark Sarsfield
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Mike
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« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2014, 05:22:20 PM »

It is an interesting court case, Mark. I realize the Batfish is landlocked as well (though the Marlin nearly pushed that envelope with the flooding a few years back), but the point of sharing was the relevance of what seems to be indecision/apathy by the Foundation as far as the Cabot/Dedalo went.

Trust me, I am in no way an expert on this (or much of anything posted here), therefore I claim no title of "Omnipotent Ombudsman" or anything like that... however, I do have a good idea about personality conflicts causing people to lose sight of the true issues at hand. Ohhh, do I have tales to tell about THAT topic - but this isn't the time/place for those.

The issue at hand is the item and the direction that needs to be taken to ensure the best preservation of said item, in the simplest way of looking at it.

Again, this is from an outside perspective without knowing much about the situation other than what has been posted, so don't yell at me Smiley

Perhaps Brent is on the right path, and perhaps the volunteers are as well... but what's best for the Batfish? From dealing with some of the issues in my past (from Dilbert-esqe idiocy of people in the workplace to the ex-wife) one of the worst things to do is to get all parties in the same room without a proper and indifferent mediator. I say "indifferent", but not really... again, this is about the Batfish, right? I don't know the people involved personally (I keep repeating this to restate that I am making NO claims to pretend otherwise), but after reading the sheer frustration from the volunteers, I could probably guess that the intensity on both sides would increase as the meeting would go on... in fact, I'm pretty sure there is a mathematical formula for such a phenomenon - I have experienced it myself. I could go on and on elaborating on the same idea, but you get the point - ombudsman...mediator... something.
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"When you're holding people's attention, I feel you must give them high-quality ingredients. They deserve nothing but your best. And if they need information, get it, cross-check it, and try to be right. Do not waste their time; do not enjoy the ego trip of being onstage."

Henry Rollins
Darrin
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« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2014, 06:49:49 PM »

Mike,

You made a very good point about having a moderator involved and honestly I believe that with the Batfish and the Torsk both the crew and the management teams are willing to work some if not most of the issues out (at least I hope they both are ready)

For the volunteer crew on Torsk (TVA) the light looks like it is at the end of the tunnel because HSIB (Historic Ships In Baltimore) has finally come up with written policies and procedures for volunteers for their museum vessels and TVA has requested clarification on a couple of issues so it can go back to the whole crew of TVA to review. They love the boat as much if not more than the volunteer crew of the Batfish and hopefully everything can be resolved for both the volunteer crews so that they can go back to work once more.

Here is the update on the Torsk situation: http://www.torskphotoguy.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1638

Darrin
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