“The museum is hanging on,” said Glacier County Historical Museum Director, Dennis Seglem. “We are trying to steer through the muddy waters and preserve whatever county funds they are able to provide us. It is hard to plan without knowing what is in our future.”
Last July, the museum’s budget was significantly reduced for the 2019-20 fiscal year. This left the museum with very little in their operation fund. Their seasonal groundskeeper position was cut and the collections coordinator position was also eliminated. Dennis’ full-time position was cut to 32 hours a week, starting in October.
The funds coming from Glacier County are limited and have covered only 50 percent of the insurance expense for the museum. Only 33 percent of the museum’s utility bills have been paid through county funds.
“Thanks to public contributions earned from admission of our events like the 1920 Club Café Dinners and the Christmas event, along with membership and monetary donations, the museum was able to cover half of the year’s insurance and utility bills from mid-November to the present,” Dennis said. “There has also been furnace repairs and other minor expenses covered, thanks to that secondary funding, but it is not quite enough.”
Dennis said they were fortunate to receive a $5,000 emergency grant from the Montana History Foundation that will cover utilities for the museum from February to May.
“Maintaining stable temperatures and humidity both in winter and summer, is vital in the long-term care of museum collections,” Dennis added.
Even with the limited funds the museum has been able to secure, they are more than aware that the upcoming 2020 summer season will be challenging and uncertain.
“April begins another interpretive season with opportunities of presenting history to the public as well as earning revenue for future expenses,” said the hopeful director. “Museums cannot be closed for months at a time. Grass and weeds grow, rodents and insects threaten collections, environments for collections must be monitored and utilities must be paid. Plus, students and visitors come to the museum to learn about our history.”
Even knowing all that, Dennis and his wife, Betsy, are busy trying to find ways to fundraise for the museum. “Our long-range plans have always been to make the museum more self-sufficient. However, we still need help,” Dennis said. The public’s and community’s support can ensure this local treasure remains open for all to enjoy.
“Dennis and Betsy have gone above and beyond their roles at the museum,” added Jessica Henigman, member of the museum’s Board of Directors. “They have such pride in the history of this county and are working hard to make sure that stays right here. They are allowing the museum to evolve in new ways to generate funds while drawing more and more people to the museum.”
The Seglems will be rolling out two new programs starting this spring and summer and with the revenue those could generate, the Seglem couple is hopeful that will help with some much-needed revenue.
They also want to keep the museum available for tours and to protect the objects, collections and archives donated over the last 40 years. (See related article on the museum’s newest programs in next week’s issue.)
But they still need public support and help.
“This season, the Museum Board and I will have to depend on volunteerism and public support more than in the past,” Dennis said.
“Much like last year, revenue from memberships, monetary donations, events and fundraisers, gift shop sales and school tours will be used for operating expenses from now into the next fiscal year. All funds will be deposited in the museum’s account, which is completely separate from the county’s system, since the museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible,” explained Dennis.
He encourages all those who are not a member of the local museum to join now.
“I think one of the best ways this community can support the museum is becoming a member,” said Jessica. “An individual membership is just $30 and a family membership is only $50. That money can go a long way in the hands of the museum, because those funds directly benefit the museum.”
There are additional levels of membership at the museum along with the individual and family memberships. A friend membership is $100 and a sponsor is $250. A patron is $500 and a benefactor is $1,000.
Businesses can also join as members with a sustainer membership costing $100, contributor $250, partner $500 and a legacy is $1,000. Business names or logos will be added to their website.
You can complete your membership or make a monetary donation all on the museum’s website at glaciermuseum.org or by sending a check to the museum at P.O. Box 576, Cut Bank, MT 59427.
Another sure way to help the museum, if providing monetary support is not something you are able to do, is by volunteering at the museum.
“We need volunteers to help plan and work events, assist with keeping the grounds mowed, trimmed and weed-free, assist with minor repairs and painting, routine cleaning and with greeting visitors,” said Dennis. “And our education committee needs more volunteers to help with school tours in May.”
And the two new programs the museum is starting, are also in need of volunteer support. “By assisting us with these programs, you are actually helping our community,” he said. “Check out our website for volunteer needs under our volunteer page.”
Dennis said if volunteering is not your thing, you can still support the museum by attending one of their many amazing and educational programs. “Please attend and support our events,” he said. “While the 2019 event season was successful, more participation is needed.”
The website offers a “how to help” section if you are looking for ways you can help the museum.
“What much of the public doesn’t realize is that the caliber of the museum is one of the best in the region and during much of the year it is easily accessible to locals and nonlocals alike,” shared Jessica. “At the Christmas program, I was amazed at the number of people who could recognize a name or a building or an item from the collection and could place a family member or themselves within that specific history.”
Helping the museum in any way you can, ensures history will continue to be made and be an experience people can learn from and enjoy.