Foundations support museum affiliation study

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BINGHAMTON, NY – Four local funders are supporting a study to determine whether two local museums should merge.

The Roberson Museum and the Discovery Center began discussions this Spring on entering into an affiliation agreement.

With the assistance of the New York Council of Nonprofits, the museums have begun a study looking at ways the organizations can collaborate, share resources and staff or possibly even combine.

The Klee, Hoyt and Community Foundations, along with the United Way, have pledged monies to bolster the discussions.

Roberson Executive Director Michael Grasso says the coronavirus pandemic has hurt both institutions in terms of lost revenues and increased costs.

But he says the area’s lagging economy and steady population loss also threaten their sustainability.

“Where there were struggles previously, some of those have been made a bit more acute and we need to plan accordingly. Eventually, COVID is going to go away, whether it’s through a vaccine or some other means. But, in the meantime, the goal is to make sure that we’re sustainable, that we can keep our doors open and that we continue to provide the programming that this community has come to love,” he said.

Grasso stresses that the goal is to keep each museum’s offerings in place and that no final decisions have been made.

Five representatives each from Roberson and the Discovery Center are meeting weekly as a task force examining issues such as organizational structure, finance and governance.

Grasso says there is no timetable for reaching a decision.

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