Indiana State Museum hopes for new start

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana State Museum starts a new fiscal year Friday with a different governance structure and a $1.1 million surplus.

A new state law created the Indiana State Museum Board, which will merge operations of the museum and 11 historic sites around the state with the existing private Indiana State Museum Foundation.

CEO Tom King pushed for the new, quasi-governmental structure as a way to address high turnover in the CEO's office and a lack of fundraising, which has plagued the museum as state funding continues to decline.

The museum's 128 employees will retain state-employee benefits, but they will no longer be on the payroll of the Department of Natural Resources. The new board will have 13 members appointed by the governor and 12 appointed by the board. Bill Browne, founder of Indianapolis-based Ratio Architects Inc., will remain as board chairman.

Most of the financial surplus, about $600,000, comes from last holiday season's Titanic exhibit, which was a late addition to the museum's exhibition schedule, but drew large crowds.

"Even if most of it was due to luck, you feel like you're making progress," King said.

Most of the money will be spent paying down previous deficits, about $500,000 in 2009 and $100,000 last year, King said. The remainder will go toward a new exhibit-acquisition fund. That way, the museum can take advantage of opportunities like the Titanic exhibit as they arise, he said.

Gov. Mitch Daniels recruited King, a former president of the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation, out of semi-retirement in January 2010 to lead a turnaround. Barry Dressel, the museum's fifth CEO since 2000, resigned abruptly in October of 2009.

King, who is no longer considered interim, said he'll stay in the post at least through the 2012 Super Bowl. "I'd like to leave here with at least a $5 million surplus," he said.

The museum has no endowment, and state funding continues to decline. In the fiscal year just ended, the state provided $8.2 million for the museum and historic sites, while the foundation earned about $3 million.

In the new fiscal year, King said state funding is about $7.6 million.

King expects to take in $1.5 million to $2 million through museum admissions, events and other "earned" revenue and another $1.5 million to $2 million in gifts and grants.

This year's exhibition schedule includes "The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition," which opens in October, and "Amazing Maize: The Science, History and Culture of Corn," opening in September. Shackleton is a traveling show, while museum staff created Amazing Maize.

Much of the museum's broad collection is in natural history, and that work continues. King said the museum is trying to acquire land in Posey County around the "Mann" site, a rich source of American Indian artifacts from the Hopewell era.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.