By Anne Hassler Heidel, McPherson News
The McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When Museum Director Anna Ruxlow was hired in 2014, the museum was $2 million in debt. Since then, debt has been paid down by $1.3 million and Ruxlow said they are on the right track and paying down principal and not just insterest.
“When I think about my time at the museum I can’t help but compare the hard work and tenacity of the board, staff and volunteers to a sermon written by Rev Charles S Wing in 1906 to the Nordstrand Avenue Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. after the church had just paid off its mortgage after many years. His sermon was later published in the New York Times and became known as “The Little Engine That Could,” Ruxlow said during her presentation to the McPherson City Commission Monday.
Some of the highlights for the museum in 2017 include:
In 2017, fundraising events raised $22,000 compared to $125 in 2014. Museum admissions have also increased by $1,700 and store sales by $2,200. Membership has also grown from 67 to 340 coming close to the goal set by Ruxlow of 400 in 2014.
Monthly expenses at the museum run about $20,000. The City of McPherson appropriates $42,250 annually for the museum. It also receives a portion of the 6% guest tax received by the city (one half-percent).
Ruxlow highlights three decisions that have helped turn the museum around.
• Leasing space to the McPherson Convention and Visitors Bureau. The working relationship between the museum and the CVB has been beneficial. In addition to rent, the CVB partners on projects and special events.
• Becoming an official Kansas Travel Center. Traffic flow has increased with the travel center designation. The museum was also able to be open expanded hours.
• Promoting the museum for meeting and special occasion rentals. Rental income for 2017 was more than the last three years combined, according to Ruxlow. The coming year also looks to be a busy one for facility rentals.
Ruxlow still has goals she would like to see accomplished at the museum.
“We are like any non-profit in search of time, talent and treasure,” Ruxlow said.
- Finding a sustainable source of income.
- Increase volunteers and add a volunteer coordinator.
- Complete the exhibits – this will be a lengthy process.
- Remove house next door to create more green space and additional parking.
- Increase number of paid staff.
To learn more about the McPherson Museum or to become a member, visit mcphersonmuseum.com. Exhibit hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday.