To the editor:
The problems at the Watkins Museum are due to a series of inadequately performing boards. Installing a new director at Watkins will not solve that problem.
I have worked under both former directors Steve Jansen as a paid front-desk assistant and Rebecca Phipps as a volunteer newsletter editor. They both brought skills and knowledge to the museum that the boards failed fully to appreciate or acknowledge.
Board members are legally and financially responsible for the health of the organization they serve. I have yet to see any action by the Watkins boards that helped increase society membership or raise funds.
I don't think the board knows what a museum director does or what a board is legally required to do. Board education should be a high priority in the management restructuring at the society and museum.
There is, however, a great risk in turning over management of the museum to Destination Management Inc., which is a reformulation of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Craig Weinaug says that DMI is supposed to assist in the management of the museum, not manage it. But she who controls the purse runs the show, and Judy Billings at DMI is being given the money formerly allocated to the county historical societies.
DMI's actions likewise need to be accountable, open and accessible to the public. Whatever Judy Billings' skills and intentions are, I would like to see an understanding on her part that without judicious accessioning and storage of Douglas County historical artifacts, there is no Douglas County history to work with, only mythology.