I am SO mad at the people running (or rather, pretending to run) our local children’s science museum, I could just spit!
They don’t return phone calls or reply to emails. Just last week I learned that I’d won a $500 grant from a local arts agency to do a big mural there, in the lobby. I wrote that grant application myself, the museum President didn’t have to do a lick of work. The museum never replied to the award letter. The arts agency contacted ME and we made other arrangements; I’ll be painting it at an underserved school instead.
My friends and I worked our butts off over the summer and fall to help the place reopen, it had closed the previous winter. We hauled out the old, broken displays, dusty pillows, filthy stuffed animals. The museum’s President brought stuff back in and chided us for “altering the collection”.
I spent hours painting a huge mural of the solar system in the main exhibit hall. Even bought the paint myself. The museum’s Treasurer put his hand out to demand money when I helped myself to some snack crackers.
And lot of talented people volunteered during the reopening, including a local artist from my mom’s group who’s an excellent graphic designer. She re-did the entire website and redesigned the forms. In August. The results are stunning, about 1000% better than what they had. The museum’s President has never approved the new website. So the old one is still up. The information is incomplete and out-of-date, green text set against neon yellow.
Meanwhile, when we complained about lack of communication the President came up with a spiffy newsletter. It’s really jazzy. It’s all about him!
One of my friends is a former NASA engineer, she has amazing vision about making the place a really cool space museum. She and I spent hours writing up a detailed plan for exhibits and for management, for Customer Service and Member Services.
The President will have none of it; instead he’s filling the place with random items people happen to donate. It makes no sense, it’s a visual cacophony without a theme.
And worse, I’ve seen the people at the front desk, Board members, speaking snidely to the public. Even museum members, who happened to ask about the discount they’re promised.
My friends and I wouldn’t have bothered with any of this if it wasn’t for our kids - once we cleaned the exhibits up a bit (I washed the fire truck myself) and got rid of the clutter, the kids really had a blast playing there. Especially at first, when it was novel. We’re all moms - we’ll do anything for our kids.
So, yeah, the President’s self-aggrandizing newsletter makes mention of those great housewives and all the cleaning they’ve done.
I swear. I nearly quit over that one.
What finally sent me over the top was his whining over my misquoting the building rental fee to my kids’ school. The school wanted to do a mutual fund-raiser, charge families like $5/ea for a potluck dinner/come and play evening and split the proceeds. The President wanted $80 upfront, and complained that the $25 base price I quoted for 2 hrs of use (based on the only correspondence I’d seen on the subject) was going to cost him out-of-pocket to heat the building. Because it needed to be warm when they arrived, so that we could make a good impression.
Meanwhile I’m the one who’d been volunteering there during the day while moms and toddlers shivered, because that idiot didn’t turn on the heat and refused to tell me how to do so. He never was crazy about the building being used for preschool playdates because that wasn’t “science enough”.
I’ve gone from being a local cheerleader (people all over town ask me about my involvement there) to hoping the place fails. I tell everyone I left because of creative differences.
I’ll never understand how people can’t comprehend that a business is a business. What fuels it is customers, not vague ideals.
It’s no different from fine art or cheeseburgers – if you’re going to make money, you have to understand and meet your customers’ needs. Or find people whose needs you can meet. Or – better – do both.
And if you’re a non-profit, you’d sure as HELL better not piss off the volunteers.