Hennepin History Museum Is Seeking New Board Members


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 has reached the end of its previous Strategic Plan, and a major focus in 2023 is finishing new 1, 3, and 5 year plans 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 gave us inspirationg 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, built off the content in Owning Up: Racism and Housing in Minneapolis. The popularity of this topic garnered widespread media attention, including Minnesota Public Radio and the StarTribune, and helped us exceed pre-pandemic levels of attendance in 2022. Opening in the Spring of 2022, a third exhibit in this series, Separate Not Equal, explores an early effort to desegregate community schools that were struggling with the lasting effects of the same public housing policy.
  • Also in the Spring of 2022, we launched 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 inspires 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, and a photo exhibit about Tibetan-Americans in Minnesota. 
  • The museum recently completed three different collections documentation projects, funded by the state’s Arts and Culture Legacy program. In our archives, we processed collections for better preservation and organization, and created online finding aids to provide better access to researchers. In our museum collection, we catalogued our art collection, and now feature those works in an online gallery and a physical exhibit Hidden Gems that opened in February 2023. And over both areas, we successfully migrated our collections database from a dying technology to an online resource.
  • The museum also devoted much attention to the financial underpinnings of the organization in 2022:
    • After two years of PPP loans due to the pandemic, we had to replace those funds with additional fundraising—both with our existing members and by broadening our base of support with new donors, but also with some cost-cutting. The board is intimately involved in stabilizing financials after two years of pandemic and a legacy of chronic underfunding for the museum.
    • We will 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  implemented a “Pay As You Can” model for free museum admission–a move that increased both gross revenues and revenue-per-visitor in 2022.

Board Opportunities

We are seeking additional board members throughout 2023, 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: