The new manager of the H. Earl Clack County Museum seems to be learning his way around his job, and made some suggestions to the county museum board at its monthly meeting Monday.
John Bruington, who took the job about two months ago, said one priority is improving the museum’s website.
“(It) desperately needs to be updated, ” he told the board.
He said he has talked with Jude Sheppard of the Blaine County Museum and web designer Heather DePriest to get some ideas about how to improve the site.
Bruington said DePriest suggested 10 pages, with 23 subpages, with an estimated cost of $1,300. He said he is in contact with faculty at Montana State University-Northern to see if students involved in web design at the college could volunteer to do the work.
“It’s something we can’t put off much more, ” he said, adding that many of the people who come to the museum in the winter write in their comments that the only way they know about the museum is by walking past it.
Board member Bud Baldwin suggested looking into if the state association of museums has any services that could help, and board member Chandra Moomey said Bruington could contact Northern professor Norton Pease, who teaches web design classes at the university.
Bruington said he also has been working with a student from a business class at Northern, who is helping with some marketing. That includes designing some posters and a new logo for the museum.
He said the initial design of the proposed logo combines many past elements, and puts both the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump archeological site and the museum in the same log.
“I like the idea of having the buffalo and the dinosaur connected with the jump, ” Bruington said. “We’re all in this together. ”
He said the poster designs also are excellent, although they now are on smaller sheets of paper.
“They need to be expanded, but they’re brilliant, ” he said.
He said he also will need help doing the annual inventory for the museum. Bruington suggested some board members come in on some day to help cover the gift shop and to help with the inventory itself.
He also said he has been contacted by the American Association of Museums about a potential assessment of the museum. He said he was told it was low-cost, but does not yet have a price. The program would give a guided self-study and then match the museum with an expert peer reviewer who would do a site evaluation and provide a report.
“The program is supposed to give us a step-by-step means of improving operations and fundraising, ” he said.
Museum funding foundation board Chair Elaine Morse said that had recently been done, while the museum still was located in the old U. S. post office and federal courthouse on 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street. She said the report should still be available, and that she should have a copy if Bruington could not find it.
Bruington and board members agreed that that report should be reviewed before looking into another.
“There is low cost, and there is low cost, ” museum board member Gary Wilson said.
Bruington also recommended more work be done to find how to improve the lighting both in the museum and on the southwest corner of the Holiday Village Mall’s common area, where the museum is located.
He said Sheppard, of the Blaine County museum, also recommended looking into adding some track lighting for the museum.
He said another issue is preparing for the Christmas season. He is starting to pick up some new items, including some popular copper replicas of coins on consignment, and to look into stocking up with popular items for the holiday season.