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Governor to merge state museum into new agency

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is planning to merge the Indiana State Museum, 12 historic sites and state library under one new agency, according to sources close to the museum.

The new agency would be run by an appointee of the governor. This week's resignation by Indiana State Museum CEO Barry Dressel was part of the transition.

Dressel has declined to comment on the reasons .

Officials with organizations that would be affected by Daniels' plan referred calls to the governor's office. Daniels' spokeswoman Jane Jankowski did not respond to IBJ's inquiry Friday morning.

The change would consolidate the chain of command at the museum and historic sites. People who work in those facilities are employed by the Department of Natural Resources, but they answer to a CEO who is hired by the Indiana State Museum Foundation, a private not-for-profit. With Dressel's departure, the foundation has seen five CEOs come and go since 2000.

State Sen. Jim Merritt, an Indianapolis Republican, has advocated for the consolidation for years. He could not be reached for comment this morning. It's unclear what's prompting the governor to make the move now. 

Although the state museum foundation supports exhibits and marketing, the bulk of the museum's funding comes from taxpayer dollars, about $6 million this fiscal year. While the foundation has historically hired or fired the museum's chief executive, the governor does have some authority in the matter. The CEO also answers to a governor-appointed board of trustees, including DNR Commissioner Rob Carter.

Carter announced to his staff on Wednesday that Dressel had resigned and that longtime museum employee Kathleen McLary would serve as "interim division director." A DNR spokesman and Indiana State Museum Foundation Chairman Greg Pemberton both referred questions to Daniels' office.

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  • Not Without Precedent
    On the national level, the National Endowment for the Arts merged two separate divisions into one, The Institute for Museum and Library Services.
  • Confusing
    OMG! This is almost as confusing/frustrating as trying to get to the ISM/IMAX Bunker!

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