The Los Angeles County
Citizen's Economy and
Dr. Gunther Buerk
Task Force Members
Betty Trotter, Chair
Jaclyn Tilley Hill, Vice-Chair
David W. Farrar
John A. FitzRandolph
Albert M. Vera
Bruce J. Staniforth
Dr. George Davis
|The mission of the Economy and Efficiency Commission is to examine any function of County government at the request of the Board of Supervisors, on its own initiative, or as suggested by others and adopted, and to submit recommendations to the Board directed toward improving local government economy and efficiency, and effectiveness.|
April 10, 1995
Honorable Gloria Molina, Chair
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
500 West Temple Street
Room 856, Hahn Hall of Administration
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dear Chairperson Molina,
On July 12, 1994 the Board of supervisors requested that the Economy and Efficiency Commission "...study and make public policy recommendations concerning the donation of collections. This included the possibility of contracting with educational institutions to assist in maintaining collections of the Natural History Museum used in the conduct of basic research. These collections may be in storage or not on exhibit."
In response to Board direction, the commission engaged Dr. George M. Davis to assist in the development of this report. Dr. Davis is renowned in the field of museum management and currently holds the Pilsbury Chair of Malacology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. In addition, Dr. Davis is the past chairperson of the board of directions of the American Type Culture Collection.
The attached report entitled, "Analysis of the Collections and Collections-Based Activities of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, is herein submitted. This report, which has been coordinated with County Counsel, makes 37 recommendations to improve the operations and management of the museum. These recommendations are also offered to improve efficiency, reduce County costs and increase revenue possibilities.
The Commission would like to acknowledge the cooperation and assistance of the museum staff in the preparation of this report. We also appreciate the opportunity to assist the Board and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in achieving a more efficient and effective program. This Commission looks forward to providing further support in a future implementation review of these recommendations.
Each Economy and Efficiency Commissioner
Sally Reed, Chief Administrative Officer
DeWitt Clinton, County Counsel
Dr. James Powell, President, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Dr. George Davis, Academy of Sciences
|FINDINGS AND SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS|
|THE MUSEUM, ITS MISSION AND ROLE|
|3.||The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC)|
|4.||The NHMLAC Collections|
|5.||The National Standing of NHMLAC|
|6.||Botany (Fungi and Algae)/Molecular Genetics|
|12.||Responsibility For The Collections|
|13.||Utilization of Collections|
|14.||Growth of Collections|
|15.||Transfer of Collections To Academic Institutions|
|16.||Museum Collection Policy|
|COLLECTION OPERATIONS AND PERSONNEL|
|17.||Warehouses and Collections|
|19.||Governance and Structure|
On July 12, 1994 the Board of Supervisors took the following action:
"Requested the Los Angeles County Citizens' Economy and Efficiency Commission and the County Counsel to study the requirements and make recommendations for public policy resulting in donating to and/or contracting with education institutions to maintain and conduct basic research regarding the surplus collections of the Museum of Natural History that are stored or not being currently exhibited . . . "
It is in response to this direction, the Economy and Efficiency Commission has conducted the following review of the collections policy and collection-based activities of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC).
This assignment required that the Commission examine the feasibility of having educational institutions accept "surplus collections" of the Natural History Museum or of having these institutions enter into a contract with the museum to help defray the cost of maintaining collections that are necessary for the research.
The Board's direction appears to make the following assumptions:
The level of review necessary to complete the assignment required the Commission cover a wide range of museum activities that might, at first, be considered beyond the project's scope. This approach enabled more accurately and appropriately developed recommendations concerning the museum's collections. The intent was to assure that the Board's assignment was completed and to confirm that the Board was being provided a complete picture of the museum's situation.
A number of recommendations made in the report suggest that implementation be planned for the year 2000. The Commission feels that this five-year period allows a reasonable time for the museum to make the major directional shifts that will be necessary. Shifts of significant magnitude will be required to place the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in the position of establishing itself as an increasingly effective and internationally recognized institution.
This report examines the following areas of the museum's policy, operations, structure and management:
|FINDINGS AND SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS|
The following are the major findings developed from the analysis of the material presented within the context of this report:
|THE MUSEUM: ITS MISSION AND ROLE|
Chapter 2.94 of the County Code creates the Department of Museum of Natural History. (Appendix I) Section 2.94.010 states:
"There is created a department of the county, which department shall be known and designated as 'department of museum of natural history.' The functions of the department shall consist of and include administrative charge and control over all county matters relating to history and science, and shall also include the administration of Hancock Park (except that area of said park devoted to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), and the care, safeguarding and maintenance of all exhibits, equipment and structural improvements directly relating to exhibits, the administration and maintenance of Los Angeles County Museum, and other property hereafter acquired for or devoted to history and science. This does not apply to William S. Hart Park."
The mission of the NHMLAC presented in the 1993 revised museum collection policy provides that the museum:
"...acquires, conserves, and interprets for the present and future generations, collections of objects pertaining to natural history and human history that document our planet from its origin to the present day.
"...serves both the local and international community through a variety of public and academic programs that include exhibitions, education, research, and publications.
"...resources are made available so that society may learn from the past, better understand the present, and plan for the future."
The preceding mission statement for NHMLAC is a variation of mission statements of peer institutions throughout the United States. Since the beginning of the museum it has been collecting, preserving, describing, and interpreting natural history specimens as an activity for the advancement of science, growth of knowledge, and the good of society. Effective management of each aspect of the museum's operation is essential to the successful accomplishment of the museum's mission.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is organized as illustrated in Chart I.
INFORMATION IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE . . . PLEASE CHECK BACK
Subject to the supervision of the Board of Supervisors, the museum is under the direction of the Board of Governors, with participation from the Foundation. In addition to these two organizations, the museum is further supported by the Museum Alliance. The duties of each of these organizations are as follows:
The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Museum Foundation - The Foundation exercises the main oversight role over foundation funding relative to the operations and finances of the museum; works with the museum director on establishing long-term goals and objectives; and contributes to planning and executing, with help from the museum staff, the annual operating and capital funding of the museum.
The Natural History Museum Alliance - The Natural History Museum Alliance is an unincorporated unit of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Foundation. The principal purpose of the Alliance is to strengthen the public involvement in, understanding of, and support for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Its activities and affairs are governed by a Board of Directors. The Alliance has the primary responsibility for membership development, planning services for members, coordinating fund raising events and programs and facilitating interest councils.
Museum Management - The Director of the museum and his staff have responsibility for operating the museum on a day-to-day basis, for taking initiatives in the scientific, collections and public program areas to fulfill the museum's purposes, and for working with Governors/Trustees on setting the long-term direction of the museum. The museum management is involved directly or indirectly in all activities related to the museum.
Los Angeles County, through its Department of Museum of Natural History, operates and maintains the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park and the four affiliate museums:
NHMLAC is one of the largest natural history and American history museums in the United States and the largest in the western United States. As such, it has become an active cultural institution within the Los Angeles area. It annually attracts over 1 million visitors, representing the culturally diverse demographics of Southern California. Additionally, it houses an internationally recognized research library consisting of 98,000 volumes, 2,500 current periodical subscriptions, 20,000 maps and charts, and an array of special collections.
A number of permanent exhibits are on display within the Museum, including the following:
The museum staff is comprised of 245 personnel, including over 16 curators with earned doctorates who conduct research all over the world.
The collections within the museum include:
Over 700,000 people, both adults and children, participate in the museum's educational programs each year. One hundred thirty thousand students benefit annually from the Natural History Museum's School Tour Program. An additional 55,000 to 60,000 students participate in school tours at the Page and Hart Museums. Each year 25 outstanding high school science students are introduced to scientific research in the year-long Museum Research Apprentice Program conducted by the museum's curators and education staff. Teachers may participate in workshops for salary or university point credit.
Special education programs within the museum include:
The biological collections of the NHMLAC rank fourth in prominence in the United States. The size of these collections, as illustrated in Chart II, is important in the establishment of this prominence. Chart II also makes estimates of collection area required by each collection department.
|Department||Specimens||Collection Area (sq. ft.)|
La Brea Vert Paleo
Reptiles and amphibia
|Entomology - All Taxa||6,000,000||1,660|
There are two types of science museums in the United States:
The primary mission of the second category of museums continues to be the exploration of the natural world, the description of the unknown myriad species of plants, animals, and minerals and the communication of these activities to the world of science and the general public.
NHMLAC has created exhibits and presented lectures and educational programs to interpret what its scientists were doing and to encourage public support of these scientific activities. A major form of education was, and still is, the publication of scientific papers and scientific journals through which man's knowledge of the natural world grows. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has, since its founding 85 years ago, functioned as a research institution, while providing a source of education for the public.
The NHMLAC is unique in its status as a "county" museum. Museums of comparable status would be:
The domestic ranking of museums presented in Chart III has been established using the following criteria: the number and size of collections, and the number of employees, with emphasis on curators and curatorial staff. The ranking on this chart begins with the largest, and includes both the type of governance, as well as collection size. Chart IV, which follows immediately, uses budget size as a basis of the ranking. It is interesting to note that the NHMLAC is the only institution of the top five to have its budget reduced over this two fiscal year comparison period.
|National Museum of Natural History [Smithsonian]||1868||government and private||>40|
|American Museum of Natural
(New York, NY)
|1869||city government for bldg... and maint... private for operations||>16|
|Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago, IL)||1893||private||>11|
|Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County||1910||public and private||> 9*|
|Illinois State Natural History Survey||1858||state||> 9|
|Bernice P. Bishop Museum (Hawaii)||1889||private||> 8|
|Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia||1812||private||> 7|
|California Academy of Sciences||1853||private||> 7|
|University of California Berkeley||1901||state||> 7|
|Carnegie Museum (Pittsburgh, PA)||1895||private||> 6|
|University of Michigan Museums||1838||state||> 6|
|New York Botanical Garden||1891||private||> 5|
|Cornell University||1865||private||> 4|
|University of Kansas||1866||state||> 4|
|Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, MO)||1859||private||> 3|
SOURCE: THE STEERE REPORT, 1971: The Steere Report lists data for 27 natural history museums; ASC includes some 80 institutions with collections. Although this report is dated, it is the best source available for establishing relative rankings among museums.
* The difference between the number of specimens noted on this chart and that listed in Chart II results from a mix of actual number of individual specimen and number of lots. A "lot" is all the specimens of a single species collected at one place and at one point in time. It may contain hundreds of specimens. Disciplines such as Ichthyology, Malacology, etc. number lots. Botany and entomology number individual specimens. Accordingly, the numbers in this chart are a considerable underestimate of the actual number of specimens housed in the collections of these institutions.
|1. American Museum of Natural History||$49,572,376||$52,740,330|
|2. National Museum of Natural History||41,962,000||46,734,000|
|3. Field Museum of Natural History||29,106,000||29,963,000|
|4. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County||25,739,000||*22,382,000|
|5. New York Botanical Garden||22,213,000||23,921,000|
* drops to 5th place
Mankind is dependent on species diversity throughout the world for survival, with a million species of life having been described. Yet, it has been estimated by the scientific community that there are tens of millions of species that are yet unknown to science and society. These are biological resources of major importance to mankind.
The only means by which science can know for certain whether a given species of life exists and in what particular locality it exists, is from a specimen of that species in a museum collection. Because species are variable, collections of specimens of a species include a sampling of a population. Thus, several specimens can be collected from one location at one point in time. Because a species may have a wide distribution, often country or continent wide, a collection will have a sampling of populations of that species from throughout its range. This wide spectrum sampling is critical to any scientific analysis of a species.
Specimens are constantly being used by a vast number of user communities for various reasons. As with a book in a library, one never knows just when some or all of the specimens of a species may be needed to provide the answer to questions from vastly diverse users. The numerous samples then, rather than being redundant, are critical to the understanding of the natural history of our world.
Some years ago the NHMLAC traded its vascular plants to Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden for the garden's collections of cryptograms, algae and fungi. These lower plants were to be the focus of a new thrust in the field of botany. This happened in a period of enforced reductions. It was subsequently decided that botany was to be eliminated (circa 1992-1993). As a result of this action, this category of activity does not appear in the museum's current reports. Yet, there is a curator of botany, who happens to be an expert on fungi and who also serves as head of the molecular genetics laboratory. In addition, a Cryptogramic collection is stored in the North Grand Warehouse. It is apparent that this decision made in the 1992-93 time frame has yet to be fully implemented.
The fungi and algae collections, stored in the main museum, are good and provide a strong link to the museum's marine theme. They also represent fields involving organisms that are little known and where virtually no museum is in competition. What is unique about fungi is that they are extremely species diverse, with less than 30% currently known. Since these organisms have unusual biochemical and genetic properties they are of major interest to drug companies and genetic engineers.
The museum administration, following a strategic planning process, must determine what action to take relative to botany. The following course of action appears to be the most beneficial to the institution:
The NHMLAC was founded as a museum of history, arts and science. While the arts component became an independent museum, the remaining history component is not adequately reflected in the institution's name.
In the decade of the 80's, there were 15 persons assigned to History, 9 of them curators. Problems with museum staff reductions occurred in the early 90's. In July 1993 there was a museum-wide reorganization with a considerable reduction in the size of the staff. The history collection was ultimately reduced to 3 persons. With the creation of the Petersen Automobile Museum, the transportation section of history, by default, went to that museum. The current history section includes two major areas:
There are two curators trained to care for the holdings of life in Southern California with emphasis on the Hispanic influence, California daily life through time, the Entertainment Industry, Hollywood, the Gold Rush, and Los Angeles City history.
The current history section faces significant difficulty as a result of the museum failing to take advantage of past opportunities to organize and curate the stored off-site history collections. Good long range strategic plans would enable the section to begin to address these problems. This approach would also provide a blueprint for the future that would enable NHMLAC to effectively capitalize on future opportunities in this area.
The challenges now faced in history are to:
The history section must deal with the less than effective storage of their material in the North Grand Warehouse. The problems of space, classification, retrieval, etc. cannot be easily dismissed by claiming these items to be excess collections, collections without value, or collections neglected by staff. To take any of these approaches or to consider any decision before a long range plan is in place would not be prudent.
It is unfortunate that the Seaver Collection is without the professional archivist it desperately needs. The Association of Systematic Collections has addressed the issue of maintaining archives in natural history museums and can give advice on the management of this collection.
This section appears to be in good shape, although it does require additional endowment or grants. The curator should be encouraged to pursue other sources of funds. The potential for access to private funding from individuals who are interested in the field of minerals is significant.
The museum collections and its chief curator are excellent. The collections are beautifully and lovingly cared for and are exceptional for exhibiting. The museum should retain a small, but viable, program in these areas.
In this period of economic hard times this institution cannot be all things to all people. It must focus on its strengths. Thus, to place emphasis on ornithology or herpetology at this point in time is probably not the best use of its resources. Every museum has an ornithologist; this museum cannot compete in researching this area. A good collection manager, one who can identify birds, help the public, and engage in contract work that may involve ornithology, however, is essential.
Herpetology is in the same position as ornithology. When the museum can securely fund programs in the priority areas identified by the museum, then it should consider putting greater effort into both of these fields.
Planning difficulties for a major hall of paleontology resulted in the removal of major dinosaurs from exhibit. As a consequence, the museum failed to produce a first rate exhibit which could have capitalized on the movie "Jurassic Park". An example of this neglect and its consequences is evident in the Dinosaur Hall. This area displays "cartoon" material along one wall of the hall with the other occupied by truly great dinosaurs. The impression that such a comparison makes does not reflect favorably on the exhibit's intent or upon those responsible for creating a meaningful scientific event.
Other peer group museums have taken this opportunity to produce first rate exhibits of immense success with the public. Significant opportunities to create an exhibit of excellence to bring in an interested public have been lost, along with the attendant funding opportunities. The NHMLAC currently has a less than adequate exhibit in this area as a stop-gap measure.
In the American Association of Museum's publication Museum Trusteeship, the issue of responsibility is addressed as follows:
"Although the museum director is charged with the actual care of the collections, it must be reemphasized that final responsibility for the collections rests with the board (refers, in this context, to the Board of Governors of the Museum). To translate this obligation into detailed, effective guardianship, a collections management policy is required and should be a high priority. This statement specifies what the institution collects and its procedures for accepting gifts. It also defines policies for loaning, conserving, insuring and deaccessioning the objects it owns."
To further clarify this responsibility A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections states,
"The unique feature of a museum is its collection and it is reasonable to assume that board (refers, in this context, to the Board of Governors of the Museum) members were chosen for their expertise on collection matters. Hence, policy issues regarding the collections cannot be ignored by them or delegated away."
Collections, such as those housed in the NHMLAC, have numerous clients locally, state-wide and nationally. Specimens and specimen-related data are used by diverse groups, a number of which are illustrated in Chart V.
|Government Agencies and Authorities|
|Private Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations|
|Scientists, High School Students and Other Scholars|
Source: Davis, et al, 1989
The maintenance, care and storage of the biological collections of the museum have been highly funded by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 1964, and particularly since 1972. NSF has provided NHMLAC a total of $5,393,913. This funding has been granted after a national peer review by the nation's scientific community. Thus, since these collections are both national and international resources required for current and future research, this funding represents a national commitment to the care of the NHMLAC collections. These funds have been used for the purchase of compact storage systems, for the computerization of records, and for manpower to process into the collections backlogs of specimens accumulating from research activities and gifts, including voucher specimens. The National Science Foundation takes the view that biological collections exist for research purposes and for the development of socially valuable items.
The utilization of collections is a measure used by the National Science Foundation national peer review prior to providing funds to care for a collection. The three criteria used by NSF reviewers in comparing institutions are: the number of visitors making use of the collections, the number of loans to other institutions for exhibit and scholarly study, and the number of publications published based wholly or in part on the collections. Each of these criteria is discussed below.
Visitations: The number of visitations per year to NHMLAC average 73 per collection, which is approximately 6 per month. This number is deceptive because users of a collection resource may use it for an hour or may stay months in residence. The lowest visitations are in the smallest sections, in programs that have had significant staff reductions, or where much of the material is not accessible because of the condition of the warehousing space (e.g. History). In active collections where staff reductions have been minimal, the average annual visitation is 87.
The visitors using these collections are from the international community. The level of activity demonstrated by NHMLAC is consistent with that of peer institutions during these economically stressed times, when limited funds are available for travel.
Loans: The average number of specimens loaned out in a year is 1,077 for all 14 collection centers. The number of transactions involved is approximately 22 per active collection center. The history collections has not been in a position to make loans. The largest number of transactions involve insects, crustacea, mollusks (snails and clam species), fishes, reptilia, mammals, and vertebrate fossils. This level of activity is also consistent with that of peer institutions.
Publications: In 1993 there were, based only on staff publications, 5 publications per 15 collection centers, or 75 publications. In addition, an estimation of the number of publications by users outside the museum, can be made by adding from the preceding paragraph's 1/4 the annual average number of visitors (73) to 1/4 of the annual average number of loan transactions per year (22). This calculation equals 23.75 or 24 publications. Thus, the museum contributes a total of approximately 100 scholarly publications per year world-wide. As with the other criteria, the number of scholarly works based on the collection resources are consistent with peer institutions nation-wide.
Collections of research museums, such as NHMLAC, grow as a result of the following activities:
NHMLAC should focus and specialize in collection areas of great strength to the institution and where the museum can compete for funds effectively. Specialization should be done with the following in mind:
Using the above criteria the NHMLAC should invest its resources in the following three areas:
To consider relocating the NHMLAC collections to institutions of higher learning does not appear to be a viable alternative at this time. The reality today is that, throughout the country, most colleges and universities are transferring their natural history collections to natural history museums. The reasons for these transfers are as follows:
All major collection centers have received NSF supported collection improvement grants to help make these essential resources available to a growing user community (See Chart V). Administrators of these collections must have strict collection policies in order to receive NSF funding. No collection center is anxious to take on a major collection involving 200,000 or more specimens because of the cost of transfer and storage. Such a major move would, in most cases, require the application to NSF for support. NSF is reluctant to see a collection moved if it has already provided major funding for its support, i.e., the collections at NHMLAC.
With the move of biological collections to museum centers, whether university, free standing, state, or county/city, these collection centers are assuming the responsibility for teaching and training students in organismic biology. Museums with a tradition of collection-based exploration and research are the modern centers of systematic biology. The world of collection-based information users now must turn to museums with collection resources to gain the information needed by society.
As a result of universities and colleges divesting their collections, they are not now accepting additional collections, nor are collections being supported unless they are also among the few universities specializing in collection-based activities. University museums are under financial stress in the support of their collections and have instituted strict policies as to what they will or will not accept. University collections are not in a position to take on mega collections from a major museum. As has been previously indicated, university use of collections for research is highly specialized and only one of the now major uses of collection resources.
A collection management policy is important since it establishes why a museum is in operation and how it goes about its business. This statement of policy serves as a guide to the museum staff and is used as a means of effectively communicating these issues to the public. The publication A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections states that a good collection management policy covers a broad range of topics including the following:
Today the NHMLAC and peer group museums have collection policies as to what is accepted into their collections, how collections are managed, and when and how specimens can be deaccessioned. The following are standards used in collections acquisitions for peer group institutions, in order of priority:
These collection policies have been mandated by the National Science Foundation as a condition for funding collection support, collection curation, and improvements in long-term storage. Museum directors and the NSF do not want to see uncontrolled growth of collections for the obvious reasons: the limited space and considerable overhead costs associated with collection storage space. Today, the growth at NHMLAC is approximately 0.4% of collection holdings (34.7 million specimens in 16 collections); or 0 to 30,000 specimens per collection depending on the collection or an average of 8,675 specimens per year, per collection. It is estimated that among peer institutions this average is low; peer group institutions are, based on their research activities, probably adding close to 0.8% of their overall holdings each year.
The current collection policy for the institution and the policies for the individual collections are generally good. They could be strengthened following an effective process of long range planning. The weaknesses at present are:
The current collection policies of the NHMLAC range in compliance with the 4 points presented above, from being focused, to being so vague as to indicate a willingness to accept any collection from any part of the world, as long as the specimens are well conserved and have good data.
The California Public Resources Code, Section 5123, setting forth the County's powers with respect to museums provides that, "The Board may purchase, collect, trade, exchange, or otherwise acquire exhibition or study material proper or necessary for the use of the museum, and may sell, lend, or exchange material, according to the established custom of museums."
This Code Section which discusses the issue of divesture, addresses a complex problem. By examining peer institutions such as, the American Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum, the Academy of Natural Sciences, etc., an understanding of policies for selling or divesting collections can be gained. Such an investigation confirms the exceeding complexity of the issue for the following reasons:
The "established custom of museums" addresses these issues and has arrived at a number of options that are considered to be acceptable:
More specifically, there are museum collection policies with strict rules about deaccessioning and disposal of objects from the collections. It is useful to revisit these here:
Any of the above actions would require agreement by the governance of the museum. After our examination of virtually all of the collections of the museum, it does not appear that it would be in the interest of Los Angeles County, the nation, or the world for the museum to divest itself of those collections not on exhibit, except for those identified in this report. These collections, along with the research based on those collections, serve as an irreplaceable resource to society and to the world community.
|COLLECTION OPERATIONS AND PERSONNEL|
The NHMLAC has four off site storage locations as indicated in Chart VI below.
|LOCATION||SQUARE FEET||1994 ANNUAL|
|10,000 sq. ft.|
32,000 sq. ft.
27,000 sq. ft.
16,000 sq. ft.
|TOTAL||85,000 sq. ft.||$ 328,955||average $6.42||**$283,647||average $5.86|
* 1995 renegotiated cost
** The total annual lease cost for 1995 will be reduced by $45,308 over 1994 costs. Assuming that the cost for County storage is the average of the other costs for 1995, costs for storage to the County would be approximately $187,520. Combining the total storage costs budgeted by the museum and the costs to the county of the North Grand Warehouse the total cost for 1995 would then be approximately $471,000.
SOUTH GRAND WAREHOUSE:
This facility houses a complete department of invertebrate paleontology with its collections, offices and laboratories, workrooms, etc. It is a clean, modern and well done location meeting modern standards for such a facility. It is an important, well used asset and should not be moved unless sufficient funds can be raised to redo the laboratory benchwork, plumbing, and cabinets to the standard now in place.
The collection occupies approximately 5,000 square feet and consists of invertebrate fossils that represent an excellent regional resource with emphasis on California and the West. This facility is part of the comprehensive Invertebrate Zoology Collections that are the modern focal point of the NHMLAC collections.
NORTH GRAND WAREHOUSE:
This facility houses a number of collections of diverse kinds and can be described as an all purpose dumping ground. The building/facility is of poor quality and the space is dirty. If all objects in this facility were either worked with as planned or relocated and stored in an efficient manner, it is estimated that the actual space needed would be approximately 16,000 sq ft. This space estimation is presented in Chart VII below.
|Space Not Required in the Future (Square Feet)|
|6,000||$90,000 available to sort out larval fishes for which there is space in the main collection.|
|1,000||Fish samples to be sorted in Costa Rica with final material going into main collection|
|5,000||Automobile storage area, Remaining automobiles to go to Petersen Museum|
|2,000||Botany collection to be considered for placing in appropriate museum|
|2,000||Malacology collection redundant or without sufficient data to catalog into collections|
|16,000||Total at a cost of $93,760/year if leased at the 1995 average cost of $5.86/sq. ft.|
|Space Required for the Future (Square Feet)|
|3,000||Supplies, 300 Earth Sciences Boxes, 200 Malacology, 2000 Bottles/boxes, 500 History supplies|
|2,500||Anthropology for objects on and off exhibits and loans|
|3,000||Jacketed Vertebrate Paleontology specimens|
|16,100||Total at a cost of $94,346/year if leased at an average cost of $5.86/sq. ft..|
The history collections scattered about the floor in large areas of this warehouse are not cataloged nor do they have registrar numbers, at least for the most part. However, many of the items have not been registered and, therefore have different provisions as the basis for the gift to the museum. Parts of the collections located in this facility contain many extremely important and valuable items. The disarray is due, in part, to the lack of staff following severe cuts in recent past. Items at this location include:
|motion picture projectors|
picture frame collection
Based upon these estimates, a consolidation into an appropriate space would significantly reduce the square foot requirements for these items. It should be clear that the estimated savings of 16,000 sq. ft. at the North Grand Warehouse would not result in any reduction to the rent expense in the museum's budget. Although this is a county facility and no rent is currently being charged to that budget, it would impact the efficient usage of a county warehouse. Thus, the county would save by either making the space available for other uses, assumedly by reducing costs at another facility, leasing the facility to another organization, or by declaring the property surplus and disposing of it in an appropriate manner. If the property is sold it would not only provide the county with additional capital, but would also potentially become part of the tax rolls, thereby generating small, but additional, ongoing revenue.
27TH STREET WAREHOUSE:
This is a clean warehouse facility of 27,000 sq. ft. of space that is poorly used. The usage and the estimated square foot utilization of this facility is presented in Chart VIII below.
|5,000||Holding area for Changing Exhibits Moving Crates|
|400||Education Lending Library|
|4,000||Publications, Including Unusable Brochures|
|1,000||Space for Dr. Ed Mitchell|
|1,000||Misc. Museum Exhibit Material|
|29,300||Total Estimated Space Usage|
|* The 2,300 sq. ft. difference in the total square foot usage identified in Chart 7 and the square foot area identified in Chart 5 is accounted for by the a mezzanine of approximately this area within the building.|
The lack of organization of the contents, the lack of planning high rise storage on pallets, the lack of an appropriate fork lift and the lack of proper aisles for high rise storage make this warehouse poorly used and organized. The air space can accommodate 50 ft vertical stacking (this stacking level would be determined by a level consistent with appropriate earthquake, fire other standards and with the costs involved in meeting these standards.). Such vertical stacking requires an appropriate forklift and careful structural stacking design to retrieve from 40 to 50 ft. It is estimated that 70% of the space in this facility is wasted.
The following specific reductions possibilities were noted:
SEVILLE AVENUE WAREHOUSE (WHALE MUSEUM AND LARGE MAMMAL
This facility is one of the two largest cetacean [whale and porpoise] dissecting, processing and storage facilities in the country. It has in storage the skeletons of elephants and other large mammals. In addition, about 1,000 sq. ft. is devoted to storage of oversized fish and 1,000 sq ft. of jacketed vertebrate fossils. There is no wasted space at this facility.
The Whale/Cetacean dissecting and storage facility, including big mammals and all whale skeletons, occupy 16,000 sq. ft. of this facility. By using the air space to hang an undersea exhibit of model whales and porpoises, including fully mounted skeletons, and by having large-scale videos of living whales and porpoises, the public's interest in this facility and its function should be markedly increased. Opening this area as a working exhibit can result in the development of a major exhibit for the paying public.
It is fascinating for the public to see how a museum works, as the annual open house has demonstrated over the years. Bones or working areas as the real thing have tremendous appeal. The exhibit should have a clear walk-way through the work and storage areas for the public so that storage and activities are in a "giant fish bowl," such as at the La Brea Tar Pits. The public would walk through the center of the collections, storage and past dissecting areas. There is no data available with which to make an accurate estimation of the revenue resulting from such an approach. For purposes of example, assuming 1,000 persons a month passed through the exhibit at $4.00 per person, the revenue generated would be $48,000 annually. This would significantly reduce the current lease costs.
There is difficulty in implementing this concept at the present location because the warehouse is in an unattractive area, but at a consolidated location it becomes increasingly possible. This is particularly true if such an approach is considered in the Museum's strategic planning process. There is also a significant possibility that foundations would be interested in participating in the development and operation of such an exhibit and videos.
POSSIBLE CONSOLIDATED STORAGE FACILITY:
The storage facilities identified above offer a significant possibility for consolidation. Chart IX below provides an estimate of the storage requirements by collection. This estimate indicates that the museum can save approximately 32,000 sq ft or 38% over their current space requirements. If the museum can find a structurally sound building/warehouse, ideally with temperature and humidity controls, all four warehouse activities could be accommodated in that building at a potential cost savings and increased efficiencies in the management of the stored collections.
|16,000||Whale/Cetacean Dissecting and Storage Facility|
|10,000||Invertebrate Paleontology as an exact replacement for South Grand*|
|4,000||Vertebrate Paleontology, vertical storage with pallets and fork lifts upward to 50 ft. to consolidate jacketed fossils|
|2,000||Oversized Fishes, vertical storage with pallets and fork lifts|
|3,000||Anthropology, for canoes and other large objects|
|10,000||History, vertical storage fork lifts and pallets**|
|2,000||Changing Exhibits, empty cases|
|3,000||Museum supplies, boxes, bottles, etc.|
|1,000||Archives for the Museum|
|2,000||Public Museum Materials|
|53,000||TOTAL Space Requirements (Savings of 38% of space or 32,000 sq. ft.)|
|* The cost of moving and replacing the benchwork for the Invertebrate Paleontology collection/labs/offices must be considered, factored in, and amortized. In the long run there would be savings.|
|** Moving History from North Grand into this new facility would require the sorting and the confirmation of registered material for the move. In the process staff can set aside objects not conforming to the specific objectives of the History Strategic Plan for deaccessioning. Using this opportunity for review of the current pieces, the collections would be reduced significantly. Well planned vertical storage would reduce need for excessive sq ft space.|
The total recommended storage requirement presented in Chart IX is approximately 53,000 square feet. Although the average lease cost presented in Chart VI is $5.86 per sq. ft., the space required for the consolidated facility is more accurately reflected by that of the 27th Street Warehouse. Thus, an estimation of per sq. ft. costs for a consolidated facility would more accurately reflect these by lease costs. As a result, 53,000 sq. ft. at $4.62 per sq. ft. results in a potential annual total lease cost of approximately $245,000. From this will have to be deducted the costs of consolidating these facilities. Thus, the savings would not show itself for a number of years, depending on the level of costs involved in the move. Even so, with the potential for future savings, the advantages accruing from the increased efficiency in the storage of museum collections and the potential for additional negotiated savings on leasing such a facility, on a long term basis, meaningfully outweighs the disadvantages.
Another significant advantage of a consolidated facility is that it can be made more attractive in response to the recommendation to develop a tour of the storage facilities, particularly one focused around whales and large mammals. With the improvement of the surroundings, the option becomes more desirable and the potential for individuals to be interested increases. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times indicates that there may be significant interest in seeing what isn't on display, as demonstrated in the recent Los Angeles Times article, "The Vaults of the Natural History Museum Prove What Isn't on Display Is as Interesting as What Is." Lacking any data on what the participation would be, a speculative assumption that 1,500 individuals per month would take this tour, at $4.00 per person, the resulting revenue would be approximately $72,000 per year.
The major impact of the proposed consolidation will be in making the North Grand Warehouse available for other uses or for sale. Without an accurate appraisal, the value of this property to the county is not clear. Using the assumption that the space were rentable at $4.00 sq. ft., which appears to be low compared to other rents shown on Chart VI, would result in an additional $128,000 in annual lease income to the county. Some greater one time amount would result if the property were sold. If sold the county would have the additional advantage of putting this property back on the tax rolls, generating a small amount of additional annual tax income.
The internationally recognized collections of NHMLAC require Ph.D. curators to work on and care for them. This resource, uniquely poised for research and service, requires nothing less than scientists who not only are world authorities in their field, but who are also highly productive. He/she should be in the top 10% of all scientists of his/her field of study. Such a person is essential in identifying and working with complex problems of species recognition and relationships.
As species and species groups do not recognize political boundaries, the curator must have a global expertise in the knowledge of organisms in his/her area of concern. This enables this person to deal with species-level problems in California, the eastern Pacific, or the Pacific basin. An expert on dinosaurs must have global knowledge to identify new species found in the Western Hemisphere.
In addition to assuring that its curatorial staff is of the highest quality, museum management must make sure that communication between this staff and the exhibits department staff on how to represent real science to the public is effective and continuing. Less than optimal communication creates a difficult and dangerous situation. In the field of research museums, the greatest museums have exhibits and educational programs that project the collections, their curators, and their research programs of exploration and findings to the interested public. It is through this effort that the museum finds its basic support.
Exhibits should be created in consultation with curators from its inception on the issues of development, content, display, communication and education, and their relationship to the public. News releases should feature curators and their programs.  The exhibits department of NHMLAC appears to be highly involved in creating and installing traveling exhibits. This is an activity that should be evaluated for true cost effectiveness, including the price paid by isolating the exhibit staff from curators.
In recent years, due to dire financial problems, there has been a considerable reduction in the number of curators and curatorial assistants. Future reductions will make the museum increasingly inviable relative to its mandates and responsibilities. In the areas of history, minerals, anthropology, and life sciences, 19 curator-level staff curriculum vitae have been reviewed. Since that review, one curator has voluntarily retired, one has chosen to pursue other opportunities, and one is not now funded, leaving 16 individuals. Excluding the Chief of Collections and Research, there are 11 curators for the biological collections. Some collections, such as the bird resource, are in the care of a collection manager.
Excluding the Petersen Museum, an appropriate staffing level for an institution of this nature and size would be approximately 23. Hiring these additional Ph.D. level individuals would require about $325,000 in annual salaries and fringe benefits (at 30%). It would also require approximately $150,000 to $200,000 in start up money (equipment, renovations, etc.) to provide them with adequate support. The Commission recognizes the difficulties in raising this issue in the current financial environment, but feels that the museum should try to establish personnel staffing goals to effectively respond to its organizational goals and objectives.
The qualifications of the current curatorial staff were reviewed using the following criteria:
Based upon these criteria, it is evident that the staff will require a significant amount of additional support to reach the quality that is to be expected of them. Although some individuals are currently operating at significant levels, others must be made aware of these expectations and given adequate time to meet the new standards. The administration must also realize that expectations differ as one evaluates history, anthropology, minerals, and the biological sciences.
An indication that additional emphasis needs to be placed on the requirements of the staff is demonstrated, in part, by the income generated from grants and contracts. The NHMLAC finance office reports a total of $2.7 million was generated in 1993/94 and projects $2.07 million in 1994/95. As illustrated in Appendix II, the staff has raised $10,524,681 over a 5 year period, with one individual being responsible for approximately 1/2 that amount. With improved staff qualification and with an addition of at least 3 more world class curators, the anticipated income from grants and contracts should more than double. Overhead income from grants and contracts at NHMLAC based upon standard performance at other type museums, would normally be projected at $1.4 to $1.5 million (based on modified indirect cost rate for overhead; the NSF standard is 37 percent).
The reader should be aware that two major collections, the echinoderm and the crustacean collections, are being moved, with National Science Foundation support, into newly renovated space. Such moves in the past 2 to 3 years have been labor intensive, taking considerable time from the ability of the curator in charge to raise funds to support research. However, within a year these curators should be expected to be fully operational and to be collecting considerable funds to support research. It is clear that NSF curatorial grants are not enough.
Research grants and contracts based on collection resources should parallel the intensity of NSF funding for the care of the collections. NSF has funded collection support based upon the concept that collections are to be used for research. Research support should be sought to make use of the NSF funded care of the collections. NHMLAC's excellence in this area is particularly evident in the ichthyology, crustacea, and entomology (insects) collections.
Four actions, if approved, will considerably increase the quality and productivity level of the staff. These elements, which do not exist today, involve:
To investigate whether this course of action would be possible, County Counsel was requested to advise the Commission whether it would be legally feasible in the context of the County civil service employment. County Counsel responded, ". . .we believe it would be possible to construct civil service classifications for museum curatorial positions generally along the lines suggested by the Commission's consultant which are consistent with the requirements of the County Charter. However, such a classification, to accomplish the purposes envisioned, would have to be carefully considered and drafted and would require amendments to the current Civil Service Rules and County Code."
If all of the four concerns above were addressed and policies based on these concerns implemented, the museum would take a significant step in the development of staff and its qualifications. With this improved administrative guidance they can be helped to achieve their potential. Good administration is the key.
The collections are constantly used for teaching students at all levels, through high school and university. NHMLAC currently has a number of graduate students from different universities using collection resources for their studies. In addition, the staff from different collection resources has joined in a program funded by the National Science Foundation. This program enables apprentice high school students from throughout Los Angeles to work with the scientists in systematic biology. It involves the development of collection-based research and the conduct of experimental work to solve problems. These scientists volunteer their time to conduct field research with these students, as well as working with them in the museum.
Nearly all curators are adjunct professors at local universities such as USC and UCLA. Such a relationship is healthy as it brings into the museum bright young minds to carry the torch of knowledge about organismic biology to the next generation. At the same time this relationship provides volunteer manpower to help curate the collections or work-study students at a considerable savings.
Curators have continually conducted outreach activities to reach all levels of students within Los Angeles County through diverse programs such as exhibits, high school internship programs, work-study programs, and volunteer programs. The removal of collections would result in the elimination of these positive activities together with the resulting loss of unique and important educational programs.
The curator's salaries should be competitive for the Los Angeles area. It is counter productive to build a program and raise funds through grants and contracts if the required staff cannot be maintained. The competition to hire these individuals is not only with other museums, but also with academic institutions which are employing some of the best minds in systematics and collection-based research.
Two types of academic institutions are seeking the individuals:
In these instances, systematics are wanted to conduct molecular biology, theoretical work or monographic work where large collections are not needed, but where a researcher's own collection, likely a limited one, is used. Such universities may have small collection resources. In both instances, these institutions are not interested in absorbing or funding huge collections in addition to those that they may have. Institutions with huge collections have received NSF funding to help support collections.
By insuring adequate salaries and by mandating a peer reviewed staff, the grant and contract flow would increase significantly, most likely offsetting any additional costs that may be incurred.
The Museum of Natural History is a department of Los Angeles County which is governed by the Board of Supervisors and the organization which has been presented in Chart I. The Board of Supervisors appoints a Board of Governors for the Museum of Natural History Department. County Code 2.94.010 states, "Subject to the supervision of the board of supervisors, the department of museum of natural history shall be under the direction of a board of governors...the board of governors shall consist of 15 positions. A member of the board of governors shall be appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the board of supervisors for a period of four years." The administration and operation of the department is, subject to the general supervision of the board of governors, under the direction and management of the Director who is appointed by the Board of Governors.
The Director of the Museum is the department head for the Museum of Natural History Department and supervises county employees of the department pursuant to civil service regulations. The Board of Governors also approves deaccession of County owned collection material and has other broad oversight responsibility for the department.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Foundation is a private 501(c)(3) organization whose sole function is to support the Natural History Museum. It acquires and manages collections, operates educational, exhibit and membership programs and raises funds for the Museum, pursuant to various agreements with Los Angeles County. The Foundation is governed by its Board of Trustees. Under the Foundation's bylaws, each member of the County's Board of Governors automatically serves on the Foundation's Board of Trustees; other members of the Foundations's Board of Trustees are selected by the Board of Trustees itself. The Board of Trustees appoints the President of the Foundation who always has been the Director of the Museum. The President of the Foundation, in turn, hires various Foundation employees who work under his/her direction together with County employees of the Museum of Natural History Department to accomplish the mission of the museum.
The governance of the museum, as described above, is cumbersome. Such an organization of governance can easily lead to a confusion in the development of effective policies both at the board level and within the administration of the museum. It appears that a merger and restructuring of the two boards of directors would result in a more practical and productive organization. The review of governance policies and board restructuring should consider the following:
Bringing the right person to the board to fill a much needed vacancy in one of the required areas cannot be over emphasized.
The governing authority of the museum is now facing a major undertaking: to organize itself to effectively address the focus on and impacts to at least three museum programs (History, Vertebrate Paleontology (relative to exhibits), and Invertebrate Paleontology); to maximize revenue and funding opportunities; and to improve the confidence of the peer reviewers within the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) relative to funding collection support for the museum.
Combined with the restructuring issue, the governance of the museum is facing the realities of the current fiscal environment and the possibility of finding major inconsistencies within its financial operations. The environment has forced a number of institutions to revise their approach to funding with a corresponding reduction of their reliance on governmental funding. This approach, an example of which is presented in Addendum I, can take a number of forms. It appears that privatization, perhaps using the model used by New York's American Museum of Natural History model, currently offers the most reasonable approach available to the NHMLAC. As demonstrated in Appendix III, there is a current trend toward privatization. This is illustrated by a reduction in the number of county employees at the museum from 140 in FY 1987-88 to 71 in FY 1994-95, while the number of Foundation employees grew from 100 to 174 over the same period.
It is reasonable to expect that NHMLAC would be able to resolve the issue of privatization by the year 2000. This leadtime allows for an effective and orderly transition within the museum's strategic planning process. The reality is that, with a fixed platform of funding until 2019 by the County at $9.1 million, annually adjusted, the annual costs of running the museum must increasingly be met by the private side, the Foundation. The average growth of peer institution budgets is 6.5% per year (range of 3% to 10%). The NHMLAC has a flat growth projection, yet must grow if it is to remain viable.
With the exception of the problems with sections of the history collection, the collections are registered and, for the most part, being computerized. The curators have a good understanding of the size of their collections and the locations of all species. However, computerization of millions of specimens is both time consuming and labor intensive.
To accomplish computerization will require that the museum hire a computer professional to assist the curators in the development of systems. This action will eliminate the ad hoc process now in place, avoid problems encountered in similar situations within the county, and preclude problems of design, development, implementation, and operation, resulting from having individuals designing systems who are not professionals in this very complex area.
The costs of a computerized system are significant. Given the current financial situation in the museum and the reductions in staffing, the prospects of making significant progress in the next few years are slight. However, the National Science Foundation has been funding computerization of type specimens at NHMLAC. The National Science Foundation will continue to fund significant programs in collection computerization. It is a matter of time, more than a decade for some collections.
In Museum Ethics, the following statement is made:
"An ethical duty of museums is to transfer to our successors, when possible in enhanced form, the material record of human culture and the natural world. They must be in control of their collections and know the location . . . of the objects they hold."
Although the Commission realizes the resource constraints and the time requirements to accomplish a complete inventory, it also feels that it is important that effective management require that a continuing inventory be in place to insure that intelligent decisions are being made regarding collection use, growth, storage and security. The experience of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History demonstrates some practical problems encountered in initiating an effective inventory.
Some chief curators have expressed deep concern that the recent budget cuts have caused a reduction in the security force and that security might be compromised. The general aspects of this concern are expressed in A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections:
"The museum has the responsibility to provide reasonable care for the objects entrusted to it. With regard to objects owned by the museum, this responsibility springs from the museum's charitable trust status . . . Trustees have a responsibility to use the care and skill of persons of ordinary prudence in preserving trust property, and they are under a similar duty to use care in preventing theft of trust property and damage to it by the unlawful acts of third parties. With regard to objects on loan to a museum, the responsibility to provide care is governed by the bailment relationship created by the loan agreement. With regard to objects other than loans placed in the custody of the museum, the degree of responsibility assumed by the museum should be set forth in the temporary receipt . . ."
As a practical matter the previous statement emphasizes the responsibility of the museum's governing body to be able to assure itself that policies and procedures are in effect that afford museum objects prudent care and protection in light of existing circumstances.
Since the concern for the security of the objects within the museum has been drawn into question, it would be advisable for the museum's management and governance to evaluate the security status of the institution to insure that specimens are being adequately protected and that policies and procedures exist that will insure that any risk of future loss is minimized.
The NHMLAC has recently uncovered some apparent irregularities in the financial records of the Museum Foundation. The museum administration has reported these concerns to County Counsel and subsequently to the Los Angeles County District Attorney. The District Attorney, at this point, has assumed full responsibility for the continued investigation, to include serving search warrants at the museum.
The Board of Supervisor's direction to the Economy and Efficiency Commission did not include a request to review the financial records of the museum and thus, this report would not have discovered the irregularities identified by the museum's administration. The following information results from a review of the museum's budget and was conducted with the objective of identifying opportunities within the museum for increased efficiencies and organizational improvements.
The funding for the museum has generally increased from FY 1987-88 to FY 1991-92 (Appendix III). From FY 91-92 to present funding amounts have been steadily declining. Graph 1 presents a comparison of revenue sources from FY 1991-92 to FY 1994-95. This graph, illustrating the data presented in Appendix IV, demonstrates that the prime source of revenue is the contribution of the county, but, if taken as a whole, the remaining categories, which represents the total foundation revenue, are and have been, consistently higher over an 8 year period. Both County and Foundation revenue have shown a general decline in the recent years, due in part to the economic downturn. This decline is particularly significant, in light of the fact that budgets of some peer group institutions have been growing by approximately 7% per year. If it were possible for NHMLAC to grow at this 7% rate its FY 1993-94 budget would have been approximately $25 million, with an increase to approximately $26 million in FY 1994-95.
Graph 1 indicates a significant revenue decline from the peak in FY 1991-92. The major areas of loss have been in contributions, ie., Capital Campaign Gifts, Endowment, and a loss in the line item Los Angeles County support, less admission revenues, which dropped from $1.6 million to 0 in three years.
INFORMATION IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE . . . PLEASE CHECK BACK
A number of actions are possible to address the current revenue situation within the museum. Each of the suggestions made below should be developed to maximize its potential to expand revenue opportunities.
Dr. Jerry Lipps, Director of the Museum of Paleontology at U.C. Berkeley, has been successful in expanding the use of, and participation in, the museum by using an informational approach to advertising. Increased usage would improve the revenue opportunities identified above. Adopting this approach would further support the recommendation to hire a computer professional for bioinformatics (computer networking, databases, Internet use, special information products) which has already been called for in this report.
These tours should be regularly scheduled and available to the general public. They can be advertised by methods instituted to retrieve information and all other usual means. Currently, the Seville Avenue Warehouse offers the museum the best opportunity to undertake this option. With a greater understanding of the museum, it should be better positioned to further develop its endowments.
Graph 2, using data from Appendix IV, illustrates expenses by category. As would be expected, payroll accounts for the vast majority of the expenses over the period, rose at a relatively constant rate. The categories that show an unusual variation over the period are depreciation, public relations, exhibit expense and lease payments. In part, these categories have resulted in a loss of $786,000 in FY 1993-94 and a projected loss of $4,335,000 in FY 1994-95. This is the first time over the 8 years reviewed that there have been 2 consecutive years of loss. In addition, the loss trend has increased significantly.
With constant county funding the variance between revenue and expenses will be reflected in the foundation expenses incurred by the museum. These expenses have increased over the 8 year period considered, most dramatically in the past three fiscal years. Increased revenue will help in reducing the anticipated deficit, but control over expense items will be critical in arriving at an efficient organization.
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The museum foundation currently has an endowment exceeding $35 million. As illustrated in Chart X, $33 million of the endowment is committed to a single stock that does not yield dividends, but rather, relies on capital growth for its continued performance. The current investment strategy of the museum has resulted in an excellent return in the past, but, as has been shown time and again in the field of investment finance, there is no guarantee that such performance will continue into the future.
|General Endowment (Pool A)*||33,935,090||General|
|Hearst Education||317,695||Education Outreach|
Seaver Institute/D. Call|
Harrison/Onderdonk & Others
Native American Artifacts Acquisition
|Bandy Trust||47,654||Gem & Mineral|
|Page Endowment||644,594||Page Museum|
|TOTAL - OCTOBER 31, 1994||35,448,921|
|*Pool "A" is comprised totally of stock in Berkshire Hathaway.|
Although a written investment policy for the museum was not available for review by the Commission, it would appear that such a policy anticipates the continued growth of the stock in question. This approach is extremely risky and is not indicative of a prudent and responsible investment management strategy. It is generally accepted by the financial community that a prudent investment strategy should rely on diversification to limit risk. It would normally be anticipated that the NHMLAC endowment investment policy should be consistent with this approach. It would also be expected that NHMLAC would have a written and approved investment policy to insure an understanding of responsibilities and the safeguarding of the endowment fund. To insure that the museum's governance fulfills its fiduciary responsibility in the management of endowment funds, it should critically evaluate its current investment policy.
The museum is facing a financial crisis which requires the infusion of funds. A prudent course of action for the museum to follow would be to generate and allow the spending of earnings of the endowment, generally for well-managed portfolios 4.5% to 6.0%. The policy should provide that any amount earned above the level of earnings determined to be appropriate by the governance of the museum, would be returned to the endowment. This is a conservative approach to the management of endowment funds. The strategy, while not overly invading the principle, would yield the museum approximately $600,000 per year that can be used to offset the current deficit.
A survey of four local (LA Area) institutions, Occidental College, Pomona College, UCLA and USC, shows that three have endowment spending rates between 5 and 6 percent; with one reporting 7-10 percent rate. These institutions generally apply this percentage to the average earnings of the previous three years endowment principal. The accepted rule of thumb across the country is 5 percent of the 12 trailing quarters. Chart XI illustrates institutional spending from endowment in six major institutions across the country.
The Commission feels that the Foundation has the responsibility in managing its endowment to expend an appropriate level of endowment earnings to support the operations of the museum. This obligation, which should be consistent with similar institutions, should be held by the County to be a condition of continued funding. Provisions of Section 8, paragraph H of the "Agreement between County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Museum" provides a "Re-Opener for Substantial Budget Crisis." Since the County is currently facing such a crisis and may well meet the definition of a "substantial crisis," it may well want to review the funding of this agreement if the endowment expenditures do not meet that which would be considered to be normal for museums of comparable size and stature.
|Museum||% Spending from Endowment|
American Museum of Natural History|
(New York, NY)
|5% of market value as averaged over three years plus net expenses of maintaining the portfolio.|
|American Type Culture
|0% budget of 18 million dollars (institution runs in the black without need of invading endowment at this point).|
Academy of Natural Sciences|
|7% of market value; average for 14 years (market return averages 14% not including 1994).|
Metropolitan Museum of Art|
(New York, NY)
|5% of market value of past 1 year.|
|New York Botanical
(New York, NY)
|5% of market value averaged over past 3 years plus net expenses of maintaining the portfolio.|
Field Museum of Natural History|
|6% of market value averaged over three years. (They are re-evaluating this strategy because of the flat market in 1964 and low yield projections for 1995. They will probably go with 5% of the market value averaged over the past three years.)|
|Spends 100 % of the earnings from endowment each year. Growth of Endowment is based on Board-approved additions to endowment.|
|NOTE: If inflation is 3%, spending from the average of the last three years should be $0.00 if interest yields 3% or less; spending should keep pace with interest earned up to 5% of the market value averaged over three years. All funds earned in excess of 5% should be added to endowment. Spending of 6 to 7% occurs in some institutions where there are chronic year-end short-falls, but where the market return has been in excess of 10%. In 1994 the market was essentially flat forcing all institutions to re-evaluate spending from endowment. The prudent action in 1995 is 5% of market value averaged over three years.|
Based upon other comparable institutions, the NHMLAC needs, or should now have, an endowment in excess of $120 million. The Finance Committee (of a Consolidated Board) should oversee the investment policy and the actual investments of the museum and assist in the development of a conservative, yet profitable, portfolio.
Increasing the endowment must become a high priority for the personnel of NHMLAC. The objective is to put additional funds into the endowment within 9 months. It is desirable to raise $25 million in restricted endowment for collections, Seaver archives, and curators. These core functions cannot return more than, at best, 15% to 16% of overhead to maintain them (collections and collection space). Collections are essential core functions and the major resource of the institution. An adequate restricted endowment assists the museum in its annual budget development. In an effort to increase the endowment the museum should provide curators with a list of foundations and industries that are off limits without administration approval. This approach avoids multiple contacts within an organization. It should be made clear that all others (companies, foundations, individuals) are open to approach.
This report indicates target dates for the implementation of the Commission's recommendations. It should be noted that in one area, not dealt with in detail in this analysis, outreach to interest the public and engender support, NHMLAC is already undertaking new efforts. TERRA, the museum's bimonthly publication, has been revived, communication with members has been increased and a membership recruitment competition has been launched. News of special events and exhibits has appeared in the media. Such efforts should continue and perhaps be extended to promote the museum's shops and expand their selection of museum-related items. Another area for future consideration could be cooperation with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is also partially county-funded, in joint projects where their interests overlap. (Currently, NHMLAC features "The New Face of African Art" and LACMA is showcasing "Three Centuries of American Furniture.")
The Economy and Efficiency Commission has found a number of areas within the operations and management of the NHMLAC that can be significantly improved as a result of increased managerial and staff attention. The Commission desires to assist the NHMLAC in accomplishing the tasks that lie before them in implementing the recommendations made in this report. To accomplish this the Commission requests that it be directed to conduct a follow-up on the recommendations made in this report with the objectives of:
|REFERENCES FOR THE REPORT|
2.94.010 Created - Name and functions.
There is created a department of the county, which department shall be known and designated as "department of museum of natural history." The functions of the department shall consist of and include administrative charge and control over all county matters relating to history and science, and shall also include the administration of Hancock Park (except that area of said park devoted to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), and the care, safeguarding and maintenance of all exhibits, equipment and structural improvements directly relating to exhibits, the administration and maintenance of Los Angeles County Museum, and other property hereafter acquired for or devoted to history and science. This section does not apply to William S. Hart Park. (Ord. 9061 § 2 (part), 1966: Ord. 8212 § 1, 1962; Ord. 8110 § 1 (part), 1961: Ord. 7224 § 1, 1957: Ord. 6967 § 1 (part), 1956: Ord. 6227 § 1 (part), 1953: Ord. 4903 § 1, 1947: Ord. 4846 § 1, 1947: Ord. 4099 Art. 13 § 193, 1942.)
2.94.020 Board of governors - Continued - Members - Museum
2.94.030 Board of governors - Duties designated.
The board of governors shall perform the following duties:
2.94.040 Board of governors - Compensation and expenses.
The compensation of members of the board of governors shall be as provided from time to time in the current salary ordinance of the county of Los Angeles. In the absence of any provision therefor in the current salary ordinance, the members of the board shall serve without compensation, except that, when required to travel in the performance of their duties, they shall be reimbursed for their necessary travel expenses, including transportation, meals and lodging, in accordance with the provisions of ordinance 4099. (Ord. 8118 § 2, 1961: Ord. 4099 Art. 13 § 197, 1942.)
2.94.050 Board of governors - Executive committee.
2.94.060 Director - Appointment and authority.
Pursuant to the civil service provisions of the County Charter, the board of governors shall appoint and supervise a director of history and science, which office is created. Subject to the general supervision of the board of governors, the administration and operation of the department shall be under the direction and management of the director. The director shall, subject to the confirmation of the board of governors, appoint all subordinate employees of the department. (Ord. 8110 § 1 (part), 1961: Ord. 4846 § 4, 1947: Ord. 4099 Art. 13 § 196, 1942.)
2.94.070 Director - Duties designated.
The director shall be assigned the following duties:
|1. FIREMAN, J.|
|History had a $1 million give-back|
|2. BEZY, R.|
|NSF Apprenticeship program Service/non research with Lafferty Foundation support/research|
|3. BROWN, B.|
|NSF research grant|
|4. CAMPBELL, K.|
|NSF collection improvement grant/ non research NSF support collection|
|6. HARDIN, M.|
|$450,000||Natl. End. Humanities/exhibit|
|NSF collection improvement/ non
Amer. Philosophical Soc./Research
NSF collection improvement/non-research
Marine Fisheries Service|
NSF collection improvement grant/
|9. KAMPF, A.|
|Foundation: equip molecular lab/service/|
NSF equip molecular lab service/non research
NSF equip molecular lab
NSF collection support grant
|12. MCLEAN, J.|
|$192,597||NSF collection improvement non research|
|13. REYNOLDS, D.|
|NSF Internet Connection Service/non
NSF Holomorph Conference Service/non
|15. SITTON, T.|
|$81,162||Haynes Foundation grant|
|17. STEWART, J.|
|18. WILSON, E.|
|$99,929||NSF computerize collection data/non research|
|19. WISE, K.|
|$7,800||Heinz Foundation grant|
|$63,750||California Fish and Game research/contract|
|Other grant support; raised by
individuals not listed above: $2,379,890|
Grand total = $10,524,681 = $2,104,936 per year
NSF Collection and Infrastructure support: $ 1,834,735
Issues to be considered in the development of a Draft Policy on review and promotion of curatorial-level staff.
|Los Angeles County Museum of
County & Foundation Funding Summary
|Citizens Economy & Efficiency Commission
Comparative Statement for FY's Ending June 30
|COMBINED FUNDING SUMMARY||1987-88||1988-89||1989-90||1990-91||1991-92||1992-93||1993-94||1994-95|
|Foundation Funding Summary||Actual||Actual||Actual||Actual||Actual||Actual||Actual||Budgeted|
|Museum Shops (Gross Revenue)||1.544,000||1,856,000||1,906,000||1,697,000||1,444,000||1,335,000||1,311,000||1,476,000|
(see footnote #1)
(see footnote #2)
(see footnote #3)
(see footnote #4)
|Total Foundation Revenue||11,962,000||13,558,000||11,887||10,532,000||14,248,000||11,366,000||12,865,000||11,456,000|
|LA County Appropriation (NCC)||7,165,000||8,539,000||9,488,000||10,086,000||11,491,000||11,016,000||9,028,000||9,100,000|
|TOTAL MUSEUM FUNDING [COMBINED]||19,127,000||22,097,000||21,365||20,618,000||25,739,000||22,382,000||21,893,000||20,556,000|
|Supplies & other services||251,000||723,000||609,000||491,000||672,000||713,000||843,000||676,000|
|Museum shops - cost of sales||0||0||0||931,000||783,000||708,000||735,000||780,000|
|Repairs & maintenance||206,000||329,000||272,000||241,000||217,000||226,000||336,000||364,000|
|Books & other museum objects||53,000||0||0||42,000||85,000||60,000||34,000||18,000|
|Total Foundation Expenses||5,534,000||9,131,000||9,604||11,266,000||11,282,000||11,285,000||13,651,000||15,791,000|
|Net County Expenses||7,165,000||8,539,000||9,488,000||10,086,000||11,491,000||11,016,000||9,028,000||9,100,000|
|TOTAL MUSEUM EXPENSES [COMBINED]||12,699,000||17,670,000||19,092,000||21,352,000||22,773,000||22,301,000||22,679,000||24,891,000|
|Endowment (as of June 30)|
Fund Shares (Book Value)
Fund Shares (Market Value)
|Footnote #1: CONTRIBUTIONS||Public Support|
Capital Campaign Gifts
|Footnote #2: OTHER||Museum Use|
|Footnote #3: EDUCATION||Lectures & Classes|
|Footnote #4: OTHER-2||LA County support less admission revenues|
The use of data obtained from the collections, library and laboratory facilities, including data taken from specimen lots housed in the Neontological and Paleontological collections of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (ANSP) Malacology Department, is subject to the following conditions:
|The data and/or collections are to be used for|
THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
From the very beginning of New York's American Museum of Natural History, the City has owned the buildings and the Department of Parks has maintained the land and property. The current site of the American Museum of Natural History is a part of Central Park.
Originally, the City maintained the buildings. Some 20 years ago, the City began to decrease its provision of funds for the maintenance of the building. Currently, the City gives $6 million for the museum which is a little less than 10% of its current operating budget. Additionally, when it comes to maintenance, the City is, at least in 1994, providing one half of the $60 million needed for maintenance, restoration, and other facets related to maintenance. In addition, the City provides all power and other utilities. The total input from the City exceeds $36 million.
From the very beginning, the collections and the programs of the museum belonged to the private side, to the Board of Trustees.
1 The term "surplus collections" is defined in this document as an expression of the possibility that some materials may be of limited value to the museum. Assuming that a limited value could be established, a collection could be more appropriately used in other ways or by other institutions. This transfer of material could thus, result in a savings in the costs of its storage.
2 Space allocations in this chart include all space collection requirements, including warehouse space allocations discussed further on in this report.
3 Systematic Agenda 2000, 1994.
4 A designation based upon the presence of ducts for conveying sap.
5 Cryptogram is a plant that bears no flowers or seeds but propagates by means of special cells called spores, as mosses, ferns, etc.
6 US Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD, has the national fungal collection and is the strongest institution in this field, but it is the only institution with this emphasis.
7 Refer to Systematic Agenda 2000; statements of the National Biological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency, and many others.
8 8 Molecular genetics is the study of molecules to assess similarity or differences among organisms.
9 Allozymes refer to multimolecular forms of enzymes, catalysts in the body. These enzymes can be separated electronically in a gel.
10 DNA - Deoxyribosennucleic acid is the fundamental molecule governing heredity found in the nucleus of all cells. RNA is related. The DNA of different organisms can be compared to assess differences. Since no two individuals have precisely the same DNA "Fingerprints" can be used to identify individuals and species.
11 PCR - Polymerase Chain Reaction is a reaction that vastly multiplies a minute quantity of DNA so that it can be used for research.
12 The Seaver Collection is one of over a million manuscripts, photographs, diaries, letters, tapes, books, etc. that provide valuable information on the history and development of California.
13 ULLBERG, ALAN with ULLBERG, PATRICIA. Museum Trusteeship, American Association of Museums, Washington, D.C., 1981.
14 MALAROA, Marie C. Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections, Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, D.C., 1985.
15 "Voucher Specimens" are used for research and are the basis for scientific publications. These specimens are housed in museums in order to verify the identifications that are published, should any person question the accuracy of the identifications.
16 These resource recommendations were developed by Dr. George Davis, Academy of Natural Sciences.
17 While not marine, entomology complements the invertebrate strengths of the collections.
18 MALAROA, MARIE C. Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections, Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, D.C., 1985, page 43.
19 "Type" specimens are those specimens actually used by the author of the species when he/she described the species. They are international standards for comparing species and being assured that an identification of a species is correct.
20 It has been stated by the museum that a revised collections policy is pending approval of the museum's governance, but was not available at the time of this review.
21 Dr. Mitchell is a visiting scholar doing research at the museum. He is mentioned in this report because he takes up a quantity of space that will soon be vacated.
22 "Cool and Collected," by Roy Rivenburg, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, February 22, 1995, pg E1/2.
23 The increase from 1000 patrons at the Seville Ave Warehouse to 1500 is based upon the assumption that a more attractive facility would draw more patrons.
24 See the New York Times for coverage of curators of the American Museum of Natural History and their programs in far flung corners of the world; the public finds this interesting and comes to the museum to see exhibits involving their research.
25 Memo from County Counsel to the Economy and Efficiency Commission, RE: Personnel System for Museum Curatorial Staff, March 3, 1995.
26 American Association of Museums, Museum Ethics: A Report to the American Association of Museums by its Committee on Ethics (1978).
27 EVELYN, DOUGLAS E. Taking Stock in the Nation's Attic, Museum News 39 (July-Aug 1981).
28 MALAROA, MARIE C. Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections, Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, D.C., 1985, page 43.
29 Harris v. Attorney General, 31 Conn. Sup. 93, 324 A.2d 279 (1974).
30 The definition of a "substantial crisis" in the Agreement is ". . .shall be evidenced and measured by a reduction for budgetary reasons of the number of budgeted positions of permanent positions of permanent employees of the County by two percent (2%) from the preceding year."