Mvsevm Update

The Mvsevm

Is it working or are we being worked over?

Esther writes:

Dear Editor:

The Pacific Grove city museum board’s annual report is on the Jan 2 council agenda.

So let me get this straight: the charter requires that there be a city museum board, but since there is nothing about how often they meet, one annual meeting is sufficient.

The near-perfect obfuscation of what happens at the museum (as Snick calls it, the Mobius Strip of Command) has resulted in no public comments other than mine. The comment about low attendance at a community day that wasn’t publicized is pretty cynical. City museum minutes and reports reach the council (and the public) three, four, or five months after the fact.

Taking all this evidence as a whole, the current board makes a leap of faith that this all adds up to a museum public/private partnership that is working.

It means the citizenry has lost interest in the museum, and no longer feels it’s theirs.

The give-away of the museum is complete.

Esther Trosow,
Eureka, CA

2013 Annual Plan for the Museum Board, City of Pacific Grove
On September 7, 2011 the City Council adopted unanimously resolution 11-072 providing the following guidance as to the roles and responsibilities of the Museum
1) Ensure the museum serves to benefit the city as a whole, its natural environment, its citizens, and visitors;
2) Advise the city council and city manager on matters relating to the Museum;
3) Serve as an informational conduit between the public and the city on matters related to the Museum;
4) Coordinate activities with other appropriate city advisory boards, committees, and commissions on matters of mutual concern; and
5) Perform such other duties relating to the Museum as the council may require by ordinance, resolution, or minute action.
Over the year the core function of the Museum Board has become almost exclusively oversight of the Lease Agreement between the city and the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History Foundation (see Annual Report of the Museum Board for 2012). In particular, section 5 of the agreement calls for certain obligations of the city to the Foundation and Foundation to the city, primarily delivery of periodic reports. While our comments about the content of the reports can be informative to the City Council, there is nothing in the Lease Agreement requiring action in response to those comments. Our assumed value rests primarily in ensuring that the reports are delivered and providing a place where the public can comment on museum plans and operations.
In 2012, the Museum Board commented on content of reports, especially planning and budget documents, and made one recommendation: to continue payments under the Lease Agreement at the contracted level. Our comments on the reports led to no action. For completely understandable fiscal reasons, the City Council chose not to accept our recommendation.
Regarding our serving as an information conduit between the public and the city, in 2012, there were only three letters submitted to the Board by one person and no member of the public attended a Museum Board meeting. There was no public comment made at City Council meetings about the museum, and participation in the one public community day offered by the museum was very low. We believe that such low public participation is an indicator that ongoing operations of the museum are meeting public needs and expectations.
Plan for 2013
As a result of our experience in 2012, the Museum Board has unanimously agreed that there is a much more efficient and effective way for us to operate in the interests of the City Council, the city’s museum, and the public. Specifically:
Consent Agenda Item No9C
12/19/12 Page 2 of 2
1. The board will conduct one regular annual meeting in November each year (allowing time for a follow-up meeting in December, if necessary). The standing agenda for that meeting will be an annual review of reports submitted in compliance with Section 5 of the lease agreement, nomination and election of officers for the coming year, preparation of an annual report to the City Council, and preparation of a plan for the following year.
2. Between annual Museum Board meetings, members of the public with comments or concerns about museum operations will have the opportunity to bring them directly to the City Manager, City Council, or Executive Director of the Museum Foundation. If deemed appropriate, they can be referred to the Museum Board, which would then meet to consider them in public.
3. During the year the Chair of the Museum Board, City Manager, and Executive Director of the Museum will monitor submittal of reports in compliance with the lease agreement. The Secretary of the Museum Board will distribute reports to all board members at the time they are available and monitor correspondence.
If an
event or communication is deemed by any board member to justify a special meeting, such a meeting will be called. Otherwise, the Chair will recommend that the matter be taken directly to the City Manager, City Council, or Executive Director of the Museum. Any member of the public, the Museum Foundation, or city management who disagrees with a decision by the Chair of the Museum Board or fails to get a satisfactory outcome regarding a concern, will have the option of taking the matter directly to the City Council via correspondence or public comment during a City Council Meeting.
The primary driver of these changes is acknowledgement that governance of the Museum is working very well. Continuing to meet more frequently than once per year serves no unmet need for the people of Pacific Grove. If these circumstances change in the future, meeting frequency and agendas would be reexamined and altered as deemed appropriate by stakeholders.
Respectfully submitted,
Blake Matheson
Tama Olver
John Pearse, Chair
Katie Siegler

2 thoughts on “Mvsevm Update

  1. Good call that people have lost interest in the Mvsevum, it used to be an exhibit hall of natural history of the area. Now all it seems to be is a reeducation camp for Sustainable P.G.

  2. So John Pearse, head of the city mvseum board, wrote a reply to my letter ( )

    Here’s what I wrote back:

    Thanks for your letter to the Herald editor responding to my statement that the museum’s give-away is complete. It sort of made my point, since many readers will recognize you as part of the group it was given away to.

    I really hope the city museum board will call a meeting soon to deal with the unresolved removal of the fetus specimen from the museum. It has been several years, and there has been some talk about resolving whether the police department evidence storage is the best place for this specimen. Inventoried but not accessioned objects that were part of the city-run museum’s collection when the foundation took over don’t stop being the property of the city (and the citizens) because the current museum management and/or city manager find them offensive or inappropriate. There has been no crime, so why was this specimen removed from its fire-proof case in the museum basement and handed over to the police? Just put it back. There was an inventory list on the back of the door of the cabinet, and it was in Paul Finnegan’s binder of museum holdings given to then-city manager Colangelo when Paul retired. Research into the origin of this specimen has pointed towards it possibly being from Ed Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Laboratories, and this line of research should be pursued by qualified experts. Resolving this (as well as some troubling questions about the competency of the bird conservator to be hired by the foundation) are clearly the city museum board’s responsibility. The bird collection is the core of the museum’s greatest strength, and it is very troubling that foundation management failed to identify an expert conservator.

    Perhaps you could also agendize the question of where Monarch Sanctuary donations go, to the city or to the museum foundation. Since dispensation of donations is a clause in the public/private partnership, this certainly is part of the board’s oversight. And the funds donated by Helen Johnson–were they given to the city or the foundation? If the latter, then I think plans for using those funds need to be better communicated to the public and to other boards, particularly the NRC. There was a massive misunderstanding about plans to build platforms in the Sanctuary with Miss Johnson’s money, and when they were finally revealed through a series of public information requests, thousands of dollars had been expended from city coffers for the plans. Also, I read that negotiations are being held to change some of the provisions of the lease agreement. Those changes should have airings at city museum board meetings.

    I look forward to receiving agendas for the meetings you call to deal with these issues.


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