Governor to merge state museum into new agency

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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