The Benefits of a New Museum

We are using the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (SNOMNH) at Oklahoma University
as our example.

Financial Benefits 
Direct community benefits can be as high as $3.50 dollars for every dollar spent on museums and indirect benefits as high as $12, according to Peter Tirrell, Associate Director of SNOMNH, who has served as a member of the American Association of Museums Board of Directors, and is a former President of the Association of College and University Museums and Galleries.

In October of 2001, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation bestowed an award on SNOMNH as Best New Attraction. SNOMNH has averaged four conventions per year since it opened its new facilities. 

Benefits of a Great Museum of Natural History to a Flagship University
Dr. Michael Mares, director of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, replied as follows to a question about his museum in relation to goals of a flagship university: "the president and deans bring all new faculty and administrative candidates, as well as potential students, through the museum during their orientation. In fact, some student functions are held in the museum as a special place to meet. Our faculty have plenty of grad students and we have many undergrad researchers, too, as well as interns, working throughout the museum. Our building has helped the president raise money (he has told me this many times, and has raised almost a billion dollars since he got here). Members of the legislature have met here too, because it is such a beautiful place and the most "Oklahoma" place in the state." 

Educational Benefits to a Whole State
Each year SNOMNH hosts thousands of children from schools across Oklahoma. Peter Tirrell, Associate Director, speaking at the University Museums and Collections 2003 Conference, told delegates that, since 1982: approximately 6 million people in Oklahoma, 17 other states, and Canada, have seen SNOMNH traveling exhibits. Even before the Oklahoma museum had opened its doors, its outreach had affected almost every county in the state. 

Opportunities for Volunteers
Former Director of SNOMNH, Dr. Ellen Censky:
"Volunteers contribute 23,000 staff hours to the museum each year. The dedication that is shown by staff and volunteers is paralleled by the dedication shown by the community. I am thoroughly impressed by how the whole community has stepped forward to support this institution. There is not a day goes by where someone in the community does not express pride in having this museum in his or her backyard." 

The SNOMNH Friends support group is aiming for a 10,000 membership, trying to represent all the state in their slate of directors, and raising money for a Field Trip Fund for schools. They are also using "dinobanks" to raise money to fund an exhibit. 

How long would it take to see a great, new museum building open its doors?
Oklahoma received its first major donation in 1994 and opened the doors of a world class museum in 2000. Louisiana could proceed faster with their example to show donors what could be accomplished.

Why must the new museum building be on the LSU main campus?
The heart of the Oklahoma Museum is its state's "treasure house", the section that holds the collections. These collections derived mainly from University research, as ours at LSU do, and remain "alive and growing" with university research. Many support facilities can be shared by all aspects of the museum. Uniting LSU's scattered collections in one museum would maximize use of these resources and free up space all over campus. 

Dr. Mares, the Oklahoma museum's current director, and director during its development, insisted that the OU museum be a short walk from the campus center, but at a campus edge for ease of access. Classes are taught there, utilizing collections, and students can be involved in many facets of museum activities, including the display and outreach.