CRMM Strategic Plan 2020-25

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Columbia River Maritime Museum



CHARTING A NEW COURSE Adopted August 2020 by the Board of Trustees



Executive Director: Sam Johnson Deputy Director: Bruce Jones Controller/HR Director: Connie Silverman Curator: Jeff Smith Education Director: Nate Sandel Facilities Manager: Gary Friedman Membership and Marketing Manager: Caroline Wuebben Store and Visitor Services Manager: Blue Anderson

Michael Haglund, Chair Don Vollum, Vice Chair Nick Johnson, Secretary John McGowan, Treasurer Helena Lankton, Immediate Past Chair Ward Cook, Advisor Steve Fick, Advisor H. Roger Qualman, Advisor Ward Cook, Advisor Kurt Redd, Advisor Stephen M. Andersen George F. Beall

Patrick Clark John D. Dulcich Dale A. Farr Terry D. Graff Jerry F. Gustafson Ted H. Halton, Jr. Donald M. Haskell Carol Ihlenburg Senator Betsy Johnson Captain Dan Jordan Kenneth Kirn Irene Martin

David Myers David Nygaard William T. C. Stevens Shawn Teevin John Tennant Sarah Brix Tennant Dr. Gerald Warnock Emeritus Trustees: Peter J. Brix Alan C. Goudy Donald W. Magnusen


INTRODUCTION The dynamic, fascinating story of the Pacific Northwest is a maritime story. From earliest pre-contact times to the present, the Columbia River, its tributaries and the North Pacific Ocean have been integral to the evolving cultures, settlements, technology and trade of the peoples of our region. The Columbia River Maritime Museum celebrates this ongoing maritime heritage. We interpret it for the public through exhibits and programs telling the dramatic and inspiring stories of the generations of people who made – and still make - a living on our region’s rich and treacherous waters. These stories continue to fascinate a public which is often disconnected from the maritime world that surrounds them. The Museum, founded in 1962 by illustrator Rolf Klep and others, boasts distinctive architecture reflecting Klep’s artistic vision. We are Oregon’s official state maritime museum, were the first Oregon museum to be nationally accredited, and are widely regarded as among the finest maritime museums in the United States. We house the largest collection of maritime artifacts in the Pacific Northwest, and a 12,000-volume research library. The Museum campus includes a main building with both permanent and rotating exhibits, the lightship Columbia, a 3D movie theater, museum store, the Barbey Maritime Center, Maritime Heritage Resource Center, and Warnock Commons and Model Boat Pond.


MUSEUM STRATEGY The past decade was one of strategic campus expansion facilitated by generous donations and grants. From 2011-2013 we remodeled the historic Astoria rail depot into the Barbey Maritime Center, home to a variety of community and educational programs. In 2013 we seized a strategic opportunity to acquire ample collections storage space by purchasing the former Astoria Builders Supply warehouses, sold the functionally limited Astoria Armory collections storage building, and installed a 3D theater. In 2016 we converted the ABS buildings into the Maritime Heritage Resource Center. In 2017 we achieved a long-standing goal of the Board of Trustees by purchasing the North Coast Auto property. In 2019-2020 we demolished the NCA buildings and built the Warnock Commons and Model Boat Pond. This major expansion integrates the campus, provides a beautiful community park space with viewshed of the Columbia River and Barbey Maritime Center, and adds significant new education programming capability. Shortly after the current decade began with the Museum enjoying strong visitation, revenue, endowments and reputation, the COVID-19 global pandemic closed our doors for 101 days, then greatly reduced visitation once the Museum reopened with mandated restrictions. It remains to be seen how long-lasting COVID-19’s impact on visitor behavior and expectations will be. Unexpected major crises test our ability to flex and adapt, and to focus on our core mission and goals. With the Board’s guidance, the Museum has reevaluated expenses, programs and plans to ensure continued forward progress where possible, while delaying or adjusting some strategies and tactics as necessary. We keep our eyes on a post-pandemic future with a “normal” economy and community life, and the Museum’s offerings in as great a demand as ever. In contrast to the last decade’s focus on individual capital projects, for the next five years we will focus on new major exhibits and programs and achieving the financial sustainability to achieve our vision of being a world-class museum. We will also be ready to take advantage of strategic opportunities to acquire important vessels, add needed additional boat storage and to put more boats and artifacts on display for the public. We approach our 60th anniversary in 2022 in a very strong position, thanks to having maintained prudent cash reserves and cultivated generous and loyal donors and members. We have every reason to believe that despite the challenges of the current global crisis, and the possibility of others, we will achieve the ambitious goals we have set for the next five years. We welcome you to join us on our continuing journey.


OUR MISSION We collect, preserve, display, and interpret the maritime history, culture and art of the Columbia River, its tributaries, and the waters of the North Pacific for the education and enjoyment of the public.

OUR VISION We aspire to be a world class maritime museum, telling powerful stories that inspire people with enthusiasm, curiosity and appreciation for our maritime heritage, through excellence in collections, exhibits and programming.

OUR CORE VALUES Exceed Expectations Foster Lifelong Learning Embrace Innovation and Improvement Show Respect for the Public, History and the Cultures we Interpret Value Partnership, Communication and Collaboration Uphold Integrity in all Actions Foster a Collegial Environment



In order to achieve our vision, we will pursue these overarching priorities:


Financial Sustainability We will strengthen the Museum’s financial health by growing the museum’s endowments, as well as contributed and earned revenue streams.


Collections and Exhibits We will create compelling new major exhibits, and enhance current exhibits.


Public Engagement We will reach more people both in and out of the Museum by increasing visitation, expanding educational programs and community engagement, and making collections more accessible.


Campus and Facilities We will optimize existing space usage, explore opportunities for meeting future display, storage and parking needs, and create a cohesive, welcoming campus.


Valuing our Team We will sustain the Employees, Trustees and Volunteers who comprise our team by remaining an employer of choice, exercising sound governance and valuing our volunteers. PHOTO CREDITS: Michael Mathers (Cover, pg 6-7, pg 8-9); Michael Mann (page 14 right photo); Scott Saulsbury (pg 19 top right). All other photos CRMM staff.



Financial Sustainability Strengthen the Museum’s financial health by growing endowments, and contributed and earned revenue We will secure funding to achieve our vision of being a world-class museum, and to sustain excellence in our programs and operations, staffing, and infrastructure regardless of cyclical fluctuations in visitation and major crises like COVID-19.



Strategy leaders: Executive Director and Board Chair.

Strategy Leaders: Deputy Director, Membership and Marketing Manager, Controller, Store and Visitor Services Manager

Grow our total endowment to $20 million in six years, by August 1, 2026 Discussion: Consistent with our vision to be a world-class museum, the Board of Trustees has set a goal for remarkable growth in CRMM’s endowment, from $7.5 million at 2019 year end, to $20 million, in six years. The challenge of achieving the endowment goal will be met by securing commitments from the Board of Trustees, longtime supporters, members and others, as well as engaging the next generation of philanthropic leaders. In 2019, the endowment provided only 7% of revenue, whereas earned revenue accounted for 65% of the Museum’s total (admissions 40%; store sales 20%; and 3D film 5%). While our earned revenue is a source of pride, our relatively small endowment limits our ability to maintain and improve existing exhibits and facilities, mount new exhibits, expand successful programs, and recruit and retain highly talented staff. It also puts the Museum at risk during periods of recession and downward fluctuations in tourism.

Increase earned revenue by increasing visitation, store sales, and 3D film ticket sales

Discussion: Over time, our earned revenue has generally trended upward, along with visitation. Nonetheless, there is still significant untapped potential in the form of both visitors to, and residents of, Oregon and Washington (and elsewhere) who do not know of the Museum. We will invest in targeted digital, social and print media marketing to increase awareness of the Museum, the 3D theater, and store, and to increase visitation, particularly in the off-season. We will seek to increase net store revenue and strive for a higher conversion of admitted guests to 3D theater ticket purchasers. We will also ensure that admissions prices keep pace with inflation and comparable institutions.


Adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and other potential national crises Strategy leader: Executive Director, Board Chair Discussion: There is great uncertainty as to the duration of pandemic restrictions and their effect on visitation and revenue. The Museum and Board leadership will closely and regularly monitor results and projections and make prudent decisions on Museum expenditures and sources of funds as the situation evolves. The Museum will also maintain preparedness to respond to other national crises.

Increase individual and business membership totals and revenue Strategy Leader: Membership and Marketing Manager Discussion: Individual membership has remained relatively flat between roughly 1400 and 1500 even as visitation has risen significantly over the past two decades. Membership both reflects and builds loyalty to the Museum. It has historically comprised 9% of operating revenue, and supported all Museum operations. The Museum will seek to increase both business and individual membership numbers by proactive outreach and adding membership value in the form of improved and new exhibits and programs, as well as adjusting membership prices as appropriate.



Collections and Exhibits Create new exhibits and improve existing ones

We will ensure compelling visitor experiences by creating relevant new major exhibits, and enhancing current exhibits.


Create three new major exhibits within five years: Shipwreck (Spring 2021); River of Gold; and Coastal Indigenous Peoples Strategy Leader: Curator and staff; Executive Director Discussion: The Brix Transformational Fund will be used as the base of support for these three major exhibits chosen in consultation with Trustee and benefactor Peter Brix. The River of Gold exhibit adds a new focus beyond the Columbia River Bar to the historic and current maritime activity upriver including the Willamette and Snake Rivers. With the Coastal Indigenous Peoples exhibit CRMM will, for the first time, explore in depth the sophisticated maritime technologies and arts that pre-contact peoples developed over centuries, and that fueled their vibrant trading cultures and nations. Cedar and salmon will be a particular focus.


Improve and Repair existing exhibits Strategy Leader: Curator and staff Discussion: Twenty years after the last renovation, numerous exhibits are in need of upgraded technology, equipment replacement, or other major maintenance. These exhibits will be restored to full functionality, and where needed, technical improvements will be made such as updating still and video images.


Create Mini Exhibits and Small Mobile Exhibits Strategy Leader: Curator and Staff Discussion: In addition to the three major new exhibits, we will share the Museum’s collections through minor exhibits in suitable off-site locations, and at the Museum to ensure fresh material is regularly being offered to our visitors.


Implement the Brix Transformational Fund plans for records modernization and accessibility Strategy Leader: Curator and Staff Discussion: The unpacking of collections boxed away after the 2000 Museum renovation is nearly complete. Coupled with the project to digitize collections records, we will now develop a comprehensive collections plan, to include identifying both accessions and deaccessions priorities and including our boat and marine engine collections. Select collections records will be made available online, and the research library will be made more accessible.


Lightship Columbia Restoration and Exhibit Expansion Strategy Leader: Curator, Facilities Manager, Executive and Deputy Director Discussion: Lightship Columbia provides a unique opportunity for our visitors to experience life aboard a historic vessel of immense importance to the region. Columbia is overdue for dry-docking and the deferred maintenance has resulted in a threat to its longevity, as well as a poor appearance. The Museum will raise the funds to not only complete the required maintenance, but also create new exhibit space, interpretation and educational programs below decks by opening areas which have been closed to the public since the lightship’s 1979 decommissioning. These include the engine room, generator room, and windlass. We will explore new mooring/ gangway arrangements to reduce the number of lost visitation days during extreme tide cycles.



Public Engagement We will impact more people both in and out of the Museum by increasing visitation, and expanding educational programs, community engagement and access to the collections.


Grow our education programs to reach more students with relevant, engaging curricula while promoting the Museum’s mission. Pursue funding to make the temporary new education staff permanent Strategy Leader: Education Director and staff, Executive Director Discussion: The Museum’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education offerings achieve a remarkable return on investment. In school year 20182019, with a newly funded third educator only aboard for half the year, we conducted 608 presentations to 14,236 students during 247 school visits at the Museum and in the schools. A donation has funded the new position for four years. The education staff quickly pivoted to remote learning with the unanticipated COVID-19 related school closures, and will continue adapting curricula and teaching methodologies to meet evolving needs. We will seek permanent funding for the temporary third position, and explore opportunities to add a fourth educator when full on site education resumes, through individual support, grants and corporate sponsorships.


Increase visitation through marketing, public relations, and tourism outreach (See also Strategy 1.2)

Strategy Leaders: Deputy Director, Membership and Marketing Manager, Store and Visitor Services Manager Discussion: We will update our website and survey visitors to learn more about our guests and their needs. Our marketing will target a wide range of potential visitors including but not limited to off-season visitation, Highway 26 travelers, coast visitors, cruise ship passengers, and diverse audiences.


Increase the accessibility of the Museum’s collections (See also Strategy 2.4)

Strategy Leader: Curator and staff; Deputy Director STRATEGY 3.2:

Grow strong, meaningful community partnerships and engagement Strategy Leader: Membership and Marketing Manager, Education Director, Deputy Director Discussion: The Museum is committed to serving the community – including underserved populations and those that have not traditionally visited the Museum in ways that go well beyond the exhibit walls. We will continue to offer our facilities and campus for community events and programs and provide lectures, conferences, educational and other programs in the main museum building. We will create educational and recreational programs for the Warnock Commons and Model Boat Pond. We will expand our adult education offerings at the Barbey Maritime Center. We will maintain the campus as a beautiful, park-like setting that welcomes locals and visitors alike and creates deeper connections to the Columbia River, and our maritime heritage and mission.

Discussion: The Museum will continue placing its library collections on the World Catalog, and its other collections online. Staff will be encouraged to conduct research and publish. Past issues of The Quarterdeck will be made available online. Future exhibits will incorporate accessibility options to improve the experiences of our guests with disabilities. Where possible, new exhibits will include a traveling component available to other regional venues.



Campus and Facilities Continue development and improvement of the campus and facilities The Museum will optimize the usage of existing space, explore opportunities for meeting future display, storage and parking needs, and create a cohesive, welcoming campus. We will ensure annual maintenance and long term capital replacement needs are met.


Optimize use of the Maritime Heritage Resource Center (MHRC) and ensure adequate boat storage capacity Strategy Leaders: Curator and Facilities Manager Discussion: After completing the unpacking and storage project for the MHRC and completing the Collections Plan, staff will assess needs and optimize storage capacity within the existing footprint. A secure reception and research area outside of current collections storage will be created. Options for acquiring additional boat storage space will be explored to ensure the Museum can continue to collect and preserve important boats relevant to our mission.


Optimize use of and maintain the main Museum building, and explore opportunities to increase the number of boats displayed Strategy Leaders: Curator, Facilities Manager, Deputy Director Discussion: We will plan for known major maintenance needs, especially replacement of the main building roof and HVAC system. We will upgrade the 20 year old electronics, lighting and A/V system that support Brix Maritime Hall exhibits and Ford/Kern Rooms (see also Strategy 2.2). We will upgrade the BMC’s equipment and infrastructure to provide for better acoustics, art exhibits, and education laboratories. Finally, we will begin exploring options for future expansion of the main building or construction of a new building to create additional gallery space, for display of important boats now in storage or to be acquired in the future.


Optimize the use of existing parking spaces for Museum visitors, and explore acquiring additional parking Strategy Leaders: Deputy Director, Facilities Manager, Controller Discussion: During peak months, a full parking lot discourages potential visitors. We will explore options for acquiring additional parking, as well as managing our existing parking spaces more effectively, to include charging a parking fee for non-visitors.



Valuing Our Team We will sustain the Employees, Volunteers and Trustees who comprise our team and are the foundation of our success.


Remain an Employer of Choice Strategy Leaders: Executive Staff, Department Heads, All Staff Discussion: The heart of the Museum is its dedicated and talented employees. We will remain an employer of choice by fostering a challenging, rewarding and enjoyable workplace culture, and providing competitive overall compensation and benefits, including professional development opportunities.


Exercise Sound Governance Strategy Leaders: Board Chair, Committee Chairs, Executive Director Discussion: The Museum relies on its 35 member Board of Trustees for support and guidance. Trustees will actively engage in appropriate policy discussions and decisions, utilizing board committees to guide strategy implementation, and conduct succession planning for long-serving, impactful Trustees as they retire from the Board. Recognizing that the Executive Director has indicated the intent to retire prior to the end of the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan period, the Board will conduct timely succession planning.


Effectively Utilize and Appreciate Volunteers Strategy Leaders: Volunteer Coordinator, Department Heads, Executive Staff Discussion: The Museum’s dedicated volunteer force contributes immeasurably to the success and fiscal sustainability of the Museum’s programs. We will foster a rewarding volunteer workplace and environment, updating volunteer tasks and priorities in alignment with changes in visitor needs to remain relevant. We will provide appropriate training, feedback and appreciation to all volunteers.

Columbia River Maritime Museum 1792 MARINE DRIVE, ASTORIA, OREGON • 503.325.2323 • CRMM.ORG

“Please join us on our journey!” CRMM STRATEGIC PLAN 2020-2025

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