OHS Exploring Site Partnership Opportunities

President-Elect Barack Obama provided some encouragement for history advocates at last week’s National Governors Association meeting. During his comments to the more than 40 governors in attendance, Obama recognized the economic constraints state and local governments are facing-and how these constraints are affecting history and preservation organizations.

Obama’s reference to “historic sites are being closed,” shows an awareness of the budgetary challenges faced across the country by organizations like the Ohio Historical Society and other local history organizations. While this recognition is promising, the current economic climate and State funding cut-backs are making many organizations look for innovative ways to address these challenges.

The Ohio Historical Society is exploring expanding local site partnership opportunities for up to 10 sites in the 2009 fiscal year. It is important to note that there is no timetable for entering into agreements. The emphasis is on creating partnerships in the best interest of our historic sites and museums. We value quality over expediency.

To develop successful partnerships, the OHS Board of Trustees will establish criteria to evaluate potential partners to manage historic sites and museums and for the implementation of future partnership agreements.

Each partnership agreement will be examined on a case-by-case basis in the context of the individual historic site or museum, the capacity of a willing group to operate it and overall stewardship issues. The Board approves all future site partnership agreements before they are entered into by the Society.

In the Ohio Historical Society network of 58 historic sites and museums ─ the largest of any state historical organization in the nation ─ 29 sites currently are being operated through local partnership agreements between the Society and a local organization or government entity. The Society has successfully managed sites with the assistance of partner organizations since 1912.

With partnership agreements, daily site operations are performed by the local partner while the Society provides funding through an annual operating subsidy and support services in the form of marketing-communications, maintenance, curatorial, fund-raising, exhibitions and education-interpretation expertise and assistance. However, the Society is open to all creative ideas for partnership opportunities as it engages communities in discussions.

Partnership agreements are a model to operate sites that maintains or even increases access to provide a better overall visitor experience beyond the level the Society can support. Sites will benefit from making the most of community support and meaningful partnerships.

You can help the Society by:

Visiting our historic sites and museums statewide. Learn more at www.ohiohistory.org/places.

Becoming a member of OHS. Go online at www.ohiohistory.org/support to join.

Making a contribution. Go online at www.ohiohistory.org/support to donate.

Telling lawmakers how much they value the many programs and services of the Ohio Historical Society. Information about contacting the governor and their state representative and senator is available on the Society’s web site at www.ohiohistory.org/about/lu/

We are grateful for your continued support.

-About the Ohio Historical Society

Established in 1885, the Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that serves as the state’s partner in preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, architecture, archaeology and natural history. Among the Society’s many programs, it:

Administers 58 historic sites and museums─the largest statewide network of historic sites in the nation;

Collects, preserves and interprets millions of historic documents, photographs and objects;

Operates the state’s archives and a research library;

Conducts preservation activities through the Ohio Historic Preservation Office;

Reaches more than 100,000 students in the state through educational programming;

Presents programs and events for people of all ages; and

Provides outreach services to local historical groups throughout Ohio.

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