Hennepin History Museum Is Seeking New Board Members

Background

The Board of Directors of the Hennepin History Museum is responsible for ensuring that the mission of the organization is fulfilled. They provide governance, leadership, and vision; ensure the vitality and growth of the organization; represent the museum to the community; and accept the ultimate legal authority for the organization. 

As a guide to these efforts, the board has created a Roles & Responsibilities document that is reviewed and affirmed annually. 

Mission and Vision

Hennepin History Museum is important to our community because it brings the diverse history of people in Hennepin County to life. We help people understand their world through an exploration of local history with exhibits, public programs, a magazine, and a public research library. We are proud to be the custodians of a beautiful historic building and grounds, which has both opportunities and challenges.  

The organization is currently nearing the end of its current Strategic Plan, and a major focus in 2022 is creating a new 3 year plan to guide our future work. Part of that process is a close analysis of the mission, vision, and values as well as the current two main goals: expanding our constituency, both through increased use of our facilities and services and through a broadened donor base; and developing a long-range facility plan to meet the current and future needs of the organization.

In the spring of 2021, we developed an interim vision statement that has reflected the changes of the last several years and describes a framework for the successful programming that is currently underway. 

Current Initiatives

The museum participated in the recently completed Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion, a nation-wide initiative of the American Alliance of Museums. This work now continues internally as the organization works to align organizational culture with cutting-edge programs that share the rich variety of perspectives that are found in our communities. 

Our most successful programs in the last five years have explored topics that were once little-known or overlooked, affected communities that have traditionally been excluded, and show people how events and people in the past have shaped the world we experience today. We strive to look at every facet of our work through the lens of better diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusivity; and to focus on projects that meet the critical needs of our community today. Increasingly, the board and staff have come to understand that this work, when done well, will be integral to the success of our strategic goals.

Some highlights from 2021-22:

  • The exhibit Human Toll: A Public History of 35W, builds off the content in Owning Up: Racism and Housing in Minneapolis. The popularity of this topic has garnered widespread media attention including Minnesota Public Radio and the StarTribune, and helped us approach pre-pandemic levels of attendance in 2021. In the Spring of 2022, a third exhibit in this series, Separate Not Equal, will explore an early effort to desegregate community schools that were struggling with the lasting effects of the same public housing policy.
  • Throughout the Spring of 2022, we are launching a new project called Radical Roots: New Approaches to Family History. This will help people think about personal histories in new ways, starting with: a Memory Lab for people to digitize their family photos, videos, recordings, etc.; an exhibit called Family in Pieces that will inspire people about how to present family history; and a series of programs and workshops that will give people new ideas and new tools to do this important work. 
  • By focusing on partnership-based exhibits, we are able to cover a wide range of topics. We recently hosted the traveling exhibit Home of Memories: Portraits and Stories of Iraqi Minnesotans that gave a unique view of immigration in this area. And in development is a project with a local author to create a sculptural installation that sheds light on the treaties signed to transform property and land use in North America. 
  • The museum is completing two different collections documentation projects, funded by the states Arts and Culture Legacy program. In our archives, we are processing collections for better preservation and organization, and are creating online finding aids to provide better access to researchers. In our museum collection, we have been cataloguing our art collection, and will feature those works in an online gallery and a physical exhibit later this year.
  • The museum is also devoting much attention to the financial underpinnings of the organization in 2022:
    • After two years of PPP loans due to the pandemic, we will be replacing those funds with additional fundraising—both with our existing members and by broadening our base of support with new donors. The board is intimately involved in stabilizing financials after two years of pandemic and challenges to having visitors to the museum.
    • We will also continue to refine tools and benchmarks to build a solid foundation of financial health to put the organization on a better long-term path of sustainability and predictability.
    • Building on our public program success over the past two years, and in line with our commitment to access and equity, we are implementing a “Choose What You Pay” model for museum admission.

Board Opportunities

We are seeking additional board members throughout 2022, providing an opportunity for new members to shape the future of Hennepin History Museum. 

The board is a group of community members that share a common passion for this organization to make history a relevant force in people’s lives, and who enjoy working together to see that passion translate into meaningful volunteer work on behalf of HHM. It is a thoughtful, deliberative group that partners with staff to meet the challenges and opportunities of the organization.  And there are other new members, so you’ll be part of driving change on the board right from the beginning.  

Board members are elected for three-year terms. A commitment of 7-10 hours per month is recommended, with 3-4 hours per month devoted to meetings (full board meetings and at least one committee) and the balance for other activities, including fundraising and introducing friends and prospective donors to the Museum and its events. Board meetings are the fourth Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. The board has resumed full meetings in person (with a hybrid option), but expects to continue to hold committee meetings online for the convenience and access of members.

Please contact Executive Director John Crippen at john.crippen@hennepinhistory.org or 612-201-6917 for more information.  

We welcome you to consider joining the board, and invite you to share some information to help us get to know you better: