By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Volunteers at the Dundas Museum & Archives are calling on its board of directors to examine changes made at the local institution, as the museum expands and develops a new vision.
At least 24 of approximately 40 volunteers signed a petition expressing concern about recent staffing changes at the museum. The petition states individual volunteers will decide on their own whether they will continue to offer their services when the museum re-opens later this year.
Board members told the Dundas Star News they can not comment on personnel issues due to privacy and confidentiality.
Volunteer Fran Donnelly said she planned to submit her letter of resignation to the board last week.
Donnelly said volunteers are upset the museum board has not officially informed them of changes being made to the museum’s administration, during an ongoing construction project that has shut the facility’s doors to the public.
“We’re hurt,” Donnelly said. “It’s the lack of respect – that we weren’t important enough.”
She started volunteering at the museum in 2004 after retiring from the City of Hamilton’s culture department – where she made her living working with museums
Donnelly has also served as a part-time administrative assistant at the Dundas Museum.
“I love museum work, it’s part of who I am,” she said. “I’m cross that it won’t be a part of my life.”
But Donnelly said she couldn’t continue to volunteer at the museum if there’s a possibility she’s taking work away from any full-time employee.
The petition’s cover letter states: “We believe that the Board should examine whether recent actions…are consistent with the standards, and accountability which one should be able to expect from a Community Museum, which relies heavily upon the services of volunteers and upon public funding.”
In an email to the Dundas Star News Tuesday morning, Dundas Museum board chair Clare Crozier stated: “Our volunteers have always played an important role in the 57-year life of the museum. When the museum reopens we look forward to a continuation of that long standing relationship.”
Crozier also reiterated the Museum’s new vision, which includes a focus on educational programming and a refurbished archival research centre.
Last week, the museum board distributed a letter to neighbours of the museum at 139 Park St. W., who had signed another petition – opposing any plan to use the expanded museum as a reception hall.
The letter stated those concerns were the result of “erroneous rumours”.
The project includes renovation of the Pirie House next door to the existing museum building, and construction of an addition connecting the two buildings, with a new elevator.
“The Pirie House is being renovated to provide office space and the relocation of our previous educational/meeting room/servery from the basement of the current museum…the educational/meeting room will continue to be used for the same purposes as it has in the past,” states the letter, signed by Crozier.
“Since 1956, small meetings and functions have been held in the Museum with no adverse affect to the neighbourhood. There are NO plans to change this.”
According to the letter, the new meeting room and education space will hold approximately 26 fewer people than the previous basement meeting room – and isn’t designed to host large receptions.