JUST THE FACTS …… SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE MARIN HISTORY MUSEUM
Since its formation in 1935, the Marin History Museum (formerly the Marin County Historical Society) has been collecting, protecting and sharing the stories of Marin County history. The collection consists of 20,000 artifacts, over 200,000 historical photographs and a research library. Over the past 80 years, the Museum has offered exhibitions, public programming and access to our historic library. Membership benefits include newsletters and access to special events.
This document is intended to respond to concerns that the public has raised resulting from statements and misstatements that have appeared in the press.
WHERE’S THE MONEY?
Many questions have arisen about the Museum’s finances over the last 10 years or so. Most of the events causing concern occurred during the tenure of prior boards and prior management between 2000-2010. Over the lastthree years, an extensive forensic study of financial records going back over that decade has determined that while some imprudent management decisions occurred, no funds were stolen. The following is the gist about the flow of funds.
By 2004, $8 million was raised towards building a new museum in which to house and display the Museum's collections and to operate its administration and programming. From 2004-2006, $1 million was spent in preliminary work to build the new museum. The project ran into a series of starts, stops and difficulties and the new museum was never built.
This quote appeared in the Marin IJ on 4/21/2015: “Donors who contributed for that specific purpose were ignored; eschewing the legal requirement to do so, the board never asked those who donated for a specific purpose permission to re-direct those funds. Instead, the board blew the money.” David Freitas
This quote was posted on 9/2/2015 on Marin Community Newspapers News: “The MHM raised millions of dollars pledging to erect a museum and relocate from the Boyd House in San Rafael, a tiny facility needing repairs that served as MHM’s home. That project was abandoned soon after a $5 million donor passed away, and clearly, couldn’t lodge a complaint.” Chris Rooney
In reality, the major donor who had most generously contributed the initial $5 million to this project, equally generously wrote a letter to the (then) Executive Director and unrestricted those funds and allowed them to be utilized to support operations, enabling the core mission of the Museum to continue. To summarize, the forensic study showed that the $8 million was spent as follows:
2004-2006 $1 million-Preliminary work on new museum (mandatory studies, permitting, architectural plans, etc.)
2008-2010 $2.4 million-Marin Rocks exhibit and MHM Music Center project, including some 20 consultants' fees. Both projects failed, largely due to community pledges that did not materialize during the recession that began in 2008.
2005-2012 $4.6 million-Museum operations.
From 2005 through September 2010, the MHM operated with full staffing (including an Executive Director, museum professionals, and numerous outside consultants for special projectsof Marin Rocks and MHM Music Center), and incurred rent expenses at the Galli Drive site in Novato, where administration and the collections were housed. The Boyd Gate House was open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays in the beginning, and gradually worked down to 4 days a week until MHM had to vacate the Boyd in April 2015 – see below.
From late September 2010 through March 2013, a reconstituted MHM board intervened and downsized MHM, so expenses were dramatically reduced to include only a Collections Manager/Museum Director with board member oversight, part-time museum professionals, and the rent, operations and maintenance expenses of the Boyd and the Galli site.
From April through July 2013, greater downsizing continued. The Galli site was replaced with a much smaller collections facility at Leveroni Place in Novato, effectively cutting by one-half the rent expense to house and preserve the collections. Administration was managed from the Boyd Gate House.
From August 2013 through early April 2014, MHM further reduced its operating expenses with the hire of anInterim Executive Director at a below market rate, exclusion of museum professionals, and reduced hours at the Boyd, keeping the collections storage facility at Leveroni Place and two part-time administrative employees. In addition, the 10-hour a week librarian remained at the collections storage facility at Leveroni Place to keep the research facility available to the public.
Since April 2014, MHM has existed and operated in a crisis mode, keeping the Leveroni Place collections facility intact, retaining additional storage for records, etc., moving out of the Boyd (see below), and having the board and volunteers handle administration, with the part-time librarian keeping the Leveroni collections facility open for the benefit of the public.
This quote appeared in the Marin IJ on 4/17/2015: "...But, the museum cannot meet its budget. Despite some private grants, other assistance and an effort to increase membership, the cash-strapped museum cannot cover the $50,000 per month cost of its operations. It has cut its budget, but donations and memberships have not covered its operational costs." Quoted from Marin IJ Editorial
As the information above clearly illustrates, the Museum’s monthly budget from late September 2010 through March 2015 had effectively been dramatically reduced from a prior $50,000 per month, to approximately $7,174 per month. This figure represents MHM’s current crisis mode, covering rent, utilities, insurance, audit and tax preparation fees, and a 10-hour a week librarian to provide public access to research. Since April 2014, operations have been managed at no cost to the Museum by board members volunteering to handle daily operations. Since vacating the Boyd Gate House in April 2015 (see below), storage fees have added an additional $800 per month. The Museum is currently in arrears with its monthly rent on its Leveroni collections storage facility since July 2015, temporarily deferred by its generous and understanding landlord.
The $50,000 per month noted in the quote above could sustain operations with paid full-time management and professional staff. But in the current crisis mode since April 2014, a year before this quote appeared, there is no capacity to employ even an operations manager.
AND MORE CAME TO LIGHT RELATED TO FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS . . .
Over time, MHM board members began to ask more questions of management about the seemingly out of control spending – details that had been kept from the board by its former leadership. Additionally, flags were raised about some procedural practices, and in August 2009 an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint with the California Attorney General’s office citing questionable practices by the Museum’s (then) longtime Executive Director. The complaint remains on file with the California Department of Justice, but there has been no official state action to date.
In 2010, the reconstituted board took action to address the extraordinary expenditures that had escalated so alarmingly under the prior board's and management's tenure. Two very expensive music related projects remained unfinished, and revenues were not coming in to cover e expenses of the Museum overall, including extraordinary expenses previously incurred to allow the (then)Executive Director to telecommute. In September 2010, the board reduced the Executive Director’s responsibilities as well as her salary, and charged her solely with the task of raising the funds to complete the Marin Rocks and the MHM Music Center projects. In a reorganization of the Museum made necessary by dire financial circumstances, the position of Executive Director was eliminated, and she was laid off with a severance package at the end of January 2011. In that negotiated severance package, the Executive Director was notrequired to repay the Museum for the extraordinary expenses incurred for her home office and related administrative expenses.
In March 2013, board member Jean Zerrudo and (then) board Treasurer Kathleen Unterman discovered improper handling of funds in and out of MHM bank accounts from October 2012 through February 2013 by the (then) Museum Director, (then) board President and (then) board Vice President. Formerly undisclosed events were exposed by a forensic review, and the board sought answers to incomplete and misleading management and officer reports. The transactions in question did not incur financial loss to the Museum, so there was no resulting report to the District Attorney at that time. These transactions in and out of the Museum's accounts did, however, involve improper co-mingling and handling of the Museum's charitable assets and other funds related to an outside taxable organization's project. The board further learned that its (then) Museum Director later attempted to secretly expunge the transactions from the Museum's books and records. The reconstituted board ordered the reversal of all improper transactions and reported the details to the California Attorney General’s office in November 2013, and those of the former Museum Director in April 2015, in fulfillment of the board’s fiduciary responsibility.
Further in March 2013, one of the Museum’s longtime board members/(then) Acting President and its former Board President were asked to resign as board members due to the aforementioned improper transactions, and a third board member resigned with them. The former board President was further cited for acting without board authorization to obligate the Museum to a $22,500 Promissory Note and to attempt to release the Marin Rocks assets to the (then) Circle Bank CEO with no remuneration or benefit to MHM. The board had no knowledge of either this loan or of its former President’s offer to give away this substantial asset, and would have required prior board approval to have been legal.
Moreover, in June 2013 the reconstituted board discovered in its forensic research that the Museum’s 2011 Financial Review, prepared and concluded in 2012 by MHM’s then CPA firm, included a footnote indicating that the Museum was giving away its $2.4 million Marin Rocks assets for no remuneration or consideration. Without the board’s knowledge or approval, its former board President and former Museum Director signed off on the review with that false statement included. The (then) Board Treasurer Kathleen Unterman asked the CPA firm to revise the 2011 Financial Review and to remove the erroneous footnote. The firm refused MHM’s request and resigned as MHM’s accounting firm.
This information appeared in the Marin IJ on 4/21/2015: “The IJ reports that from 2007-12 the board took in $1,636,901 and spent $3,787,690. This averages a shortfall that boggles the mind as to how this might have happened. What type of tortured oversight by board and management could present such numbers? One hopes that some effort to explain this gross mismanagement of funds will be offered.” David Freitas
And this quote appeared in the Marin IJ on 5/7/2015: “There are actions taken in the past that deserve to be investigated.” William French Jr.
As soon as improper transactions and board officer and management improprieties began to surface, the reconstituted board acted quickly. The sequence of events was tediously compiled through financial records at the Museum, and that forensic investigation resulted in the removal of those persons who endangered the Museum’s 501(c)(3) status. Improper transactions were reversed and all improprieties were correctly reported to the relevant authorities, and internal controls were set in place to ensure proper procedures. In light of the fact that no theft occurred, with sensitivity to our relatively small community of Marin County, the board managed to maintain the good reputation of the Museum, and solved the internal issues without publicly embarrassing or exposing any former employees or former directors for their improper practices. The reconstituted board handled the challenge with restraint and discretion.
With all the information that has surfaced about finances, it is evident that there never was a truly realistic financial plan in place to sustain the Museum. The hope was that a new museum building, or a MHM Music center, or a Marin Rocks exhibit, were supposed to provide the income needed to keep the Museum solvent. This plan, while enthusiastic, was ungrounded and unsustainable.
THE CURRENT MHM BOARD HAS BEEN COMPLETELY TRANSPARENT ABOUT ITS FINANCIAL CRISIS
MHM was out of funds and poised to shut down in April 2013. Contributions primarily from one generous donor kept the Museum afloat through that calendar year. This longtime donor/member had urged the board to keep the Museum open while the board evaluated its business options, and as he saw success in the board’s progress, he offered increments of sustainability funding to last through December 2013. Since January 1, 2014, the Museum has sustained itself through various fund-raising efforts, including a February 2014 joint effort with another nonprofit organization.
This quote appeared in the Marin IJ on 4/20/2015: "Just because the nonprofit lacks the funds to stay afloat does not mean that decisions should be made by a seemingly uncaring board. Why were they board members in the first place if they see no value in the museum's items? Why not ask the public to help?" Amanda Mehan Sugarman
In reality, the reconstituted board cares deeply and worked very hard to inform the public about MHM’s dire financial circumstances. In Summer 2013, public focus groups, funded by its longtime donor/member and (then) Board Vice President Jayne Hulbert, were conducted by CVNL (Center for Volunteer and Non-Profit Leadership), resulting in the formation of task forces whose tactical plans became part of the MHM's strategic business plan, with assigned Board champions.
Three community outreach sessions, which included MHM Legacy Donors (who contributed the $8 million) and other community members, were conducted October through December 2013. MHM’s mission and financial status were clearly stated and discussed, repeatedly. Participants were asked for their input, ideas and support.
In April 2014, MHM conducted eight community update sessions in locations across Marin County. These "State of the Museum" events were broadly publicized, and were presentations that openly and thoroughly conveyed the Museum's mission, financial status and urgent needs. Additional "State of the Museum" presentations were made to the Rotary Club of Ross Valley in April 2014, and to the Rotary Club of San Rafael in February 2015.
Meanwhile, even through these lean years, membership drives and community events continued to expand MHM’s community outreach. The History Trunk Shows, lectures, history walks, author events, and other public programs were held up to 3-4 times each month in 2013 through March of 2015. In 2014, MHM was invited in to partner with the Marin IJ and an outside publishing company, resulting in a "Marin Memories" history book that was released by the Museum in December 2014. The Museum coordinated and staffed public participation sessions in which the public brought in their personal historic photos for inclusion in this wonderful book documenting the history of Marin. MHM special edition copies were made available in collaboration with acclaimed Marin artist George Sumner.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BOYD GATE HOUSE
This statement appeared in a Marin IJ article on 4/11/2015: "For 55 years, the museum had leased the landmark Boyd Gate House from the City of San Rafael (at) $1 a year until moving out in 2014 because it could no longer afford its utility and insurance bills or to maintain the 135-year-old Victorian.”
The facilities cost to run Boyd Gate House was less than $600 per month, so there were no challenging overhead expenses related to the Museum’s day-to-day occupancy therein. In actuality, in December 2014, the Boyd Gate House, home to the Museum since 1959, suffered flooding that entered the building from an unaddressed water drainage problem in adjacent Boyd Memorial Park. In January 2015, the building was professionally inspected and found to be uninhabitable and unsuitable for workers and public entry due to a severe mold infestation. The results of that study were promptly shared with the building owner, and the board locked down the house, prohibiting entry by employees, volunteers and visitors. The premises were permanently vacated in April 2015, subsequent to legally required professional mold remediation of the Museum's belongings.
The resulting unanticipated cost of $12,500 for remediation, packing, moving, cleaning and new storage expenses consumed the bulk of the $18,000 raised through the B&C sales effort (see below). The Boyd building was appropriately left broom clean as contractually agreed upon, and the MHM board provided its landlord, the City of San Rafael, with the proceeds of the over $50,000 that the Museum had recently raised toward facility repairs.
Over the years, MHM spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, including well over $100,000 in the last 10 years alone, to repair and maintain the Boyd Gate House, in addition to securing pro-bono work through generous individuals in the community. It was regrettable and difficult to have to vacate our “home” of over 55 years, but it was necessary for the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors.
ABOUT THE MONETIZATION OF A LIMITED NUMBER OF ASSETS
By the end of 2014, the Museum was unable to raise enough funds to sustainably continue its operations, and in Spring 2015 determined that it was necessary to monetize a limited number of MHM articles in order to protect the larger Collections. Asset monetization is a standard, legal, acceptable practice, commonplace in other museums and nonprofits.
In February 2015, the full MHM board evaluated and approved the contract with B&C Estate Sales, a licensed, bonded and insured estate sales contractor. The job scope was to identify a limited number of articles as potential candidates for monetization, pending MHM’s release by the board or its designee. Selected items were to be released for consignment and not sold to B&C. Additionally, B&C was to provide appraisals for Museum artifacts that are part of its permanent collection and ineligible for release.
Starting in late February 2015, B&C Estate Sales was entrusted to enter the MHM Collections facility on its own, a normal practice when working with bonded, licensed, insured estate sales appraisers. Asset release criteria were set and the candidate items had to meet two specific criteria in order to be released to B&C for consignment: the item had to be both (1) non-Marin history specific and (2) non-donor restricted. MHM’s former Museum Manager (2013-2014) who had been serving as Volunteer Director of Programming at the time, volunteered to stay on site and verify that these release criteria were met via query into MHM’s database and files.
This quote appeared in an article in the Marin IJ on 4/11/2015 -- "Former history museum program director, Marcie Miller, laid off by the board 3 weeks ago after 5 years as a museum employee, said historic pieces she designated to be saved are no longer part of the collection. ‘There are things I would not release, but the board signed off on them and they went to an auction house in Auburn,’ she said. ‘I think they let me go because I wouldn't give them the right answers.’ “
In truth, this individual was employed by MHM for 28 months until April 2014, when her status changed to Volunteer Director of Programming, as there were no funds to pay operations staff. She had been a trusted employee, and was a trusted volunteer. However, the reconstituted board was forced to remove this individual from further Museum representation in mid-March 2015. She had given outside contractor B&C the password to MHM’s Collections facility computer and software instead of personally verifying the criteria and qualifications of items to be released to B&C on consignment. When the board learned that this individual gave away the password and compromised Museum data security, a board member and two part-time Federal Work Study student Museum workers stepped in to verify that the asset release criteria were met. This individual’s deliberate breach of security necessitated her immediate removal from the site of the collections, and her severance as a representative of MHM.
On April 19, 2015, MHM instructed B&C to cease selling the Museum's items that had been released on consignment and return all unsold items to MHM. B&C Estate Sales agreed on April 20, 2015 to terminate the appraisal and consignment agreement, and returned MHM's unsold items on May 6, 2015.
In April 2015, prompted by the plight of MHM, the reconstituted board was approached by a group of Marin, family-based, tenured, successful business professionals -- "Preservation Partners" -- interested in helping to support the Museum and to move it forward. A fresh approach to sustainability along with an infusion of additional board members was proposed and eagerly welcomed by the reconstituted board, with intended execution starting in June 2015.
However, on June 4, 2015, a civil subpoena inspired by a civil complaint by one individual resulted in a 3-month investigation conducted by the Marin County District Attorney's office. The reconstituted board members and other Museum volunteers spent in excess of 300 hours assembling the Museum’s subpoena response. After an extensive and thorough examination of the Museum's books and records and interviews with various community members, the reconstituted board was vindicated of any wrongdoing, as publicly stated by the District Attorney on August 25, 2015. The investigation also revealed that less than 1% of the Museum’s collection had been monetized to sustain operations, and that Museum officials were fully cooperative and transparent in providing all information to the District Attorney (details can be reviewed on the Museum's website at www.marinhistory.org).
Sadly, the specious, negative sensationalism in the media tied to the unfounded civil complaint to the District Attorney's office led to the prospective Preservation Partners dwindled interest to take the lead on the rebirth of the Museum. The reconstituted board continues to work with those individuals and other reputable citizens in the community who are concerned and committed to a revitalized Museum.
TO CLARIFY A FEW OTHER MISSTATEMENTS IN THE PRESS
This quote was posted on 9/2/2015 on Marin Community Newspapers News: “Then, earlier this year, regrettable and under-the-radar decisions by the museum’s board took our beloved 1904 Oldsmobile. This piece of our community’s history was sold. It was sold because the museum needed money. Another 1904 Olds, in better rated condition, was auctioned this year for $92,400, but ours was sold by the board for $15,000.” Chris Rooney
The 1904 Curved Dash Oldsmobile was donated to the Museum decades ago. Over the years, various supporters had stepped up and stored the car for MHM, so expenses were modest – we insured the vehicle and occasionally had repair expenses, generally when the auto was to be on display at a special event. In December 2011, an agreement with a local supporter expired, and once again the Museum was faced with finding a suitable (i.e., safe and secure) place to house the Olds. A Marinite car buff/collector came forward and offered to store the car in his garage, where it would be safe, and with the offer that over time he could work on restoring the car. The Board conducted due diligence on this individual and his home and voted to proceed with the offer, and the car has been under the careful watch and restoration efforts of this individual since that time. In early 2014, aware that MHM was in need of funds, this same individual offered to buy the vehicle, plus release funds he had donated toward repairs for the car. Two MHM board members at the time, Rex Allen and current Board Treasurer Lowell Smith, researched the value of the car and learned that the vehicle is pretty commonplace among collectors. In good condition it would be worth approximately $70,000. Ours was in a state of significant disrepair (it did not even run).
It was proposed that, in addition to keeping the car safe, housed at this individual’s Greenbrae home and insured, he would give the Museum $15,000 in cash and release the $15,000 in restricted funds that he had previously donated for the repair of the car to the Museum. A sales agreement between MHM and this individual dated 3/15/2014 transferred ownership to him for the equivalent value of $55,000. To summarize, MHM realized $30,000 in cash, which was desperately needed to pay the rent; the sales agreement specifies that the automobile be warehoused, cared for and insured by the buyer, who continues to work on restoring it; and the sales agreement stipulates that he is obligated to make the car available at his expense, upon reasonable notice, to MHM for display, parades, etc. If he or his heirs choose to sell it, MHM has right of first refusal. In a nutshell, our beloved Olds is safely stored, insured and cared for, at no expense to the Museum, remains available to us, and cannot be sold out from under us. It was a great business deal for MHM.
This quote was posted on 9/2/2015 on Marin Community Newspapers News: “…there is the issue of salaries. Merry Alberigi served as MHM’s executive director for about 14 years, eventually earning more than $110,000 a year before being fired a few years ago. Not to be outdone, Zerrudo apparently took the position of executive director– and its salary – without seeking any outside candidates. Having the board president of a nonprofit also serve as a paid employee raises red flags – potentially legal ones. Essentially, that’s two high-paid executives who not only failed to prosper, but drove the nonprofit into financial ruin.” Chris Rooney
In fact, MHM is a private non-profit public benefit 501 (c)(3) California corporation. In accordance with state law, MHM has a self-appointed board of trustees. Consistent with state and federal law, up to 49% of the board's Directors and Officers are eligible for fair market compensation for professional services rendered as employees or consultants to the Museum outside of their voluntary directorships.
When seriously inappropriate financial transactions were discovered in March 2013 (see above), Jean Zerrudo stepped up to help bring order and oversight to the Museum. Information was being withheld from the board, and she corrected that situation. Starting in July 2013, Zerrudo was asked by the Board to serve as Interim Executive Director for 3 months, at a below market compensation. The assignment was extended as the Museum’s lifeline was extended and the work at hand required on-site administrative leadership. Through March 2014, Zerrudo’s total compensation since July 2013 was $59,374.36. Verification of these payroll records through W-2s and 1099s issued to Zerrudo were voluntarily provided to the Marin County District Attorney’s office. From April through July 2014, Zerrudo worked full time for no compensation because MHM was unable to pay any administrative salaries. Since July 31, 2014, Zerrudo has moved to other full-time, paid employment, and the Board Admin Team, consisting of four board officers, along with two other board directors, has collectively served as the day-to-day museum administration.
ABOUT BOARD SUCCESSION . . .
The reconstituted Board of Directors of the Marin History Museum remains committed to the mission of the organization and to its survival and growth. Prospective board members need to be processed and vetted as defined by state law and the Bylaws of the corporation. The current board is unable to vote to accept to the board of MHM any individual who has committed misdeeds that have endangered or defrauded the Museum and/or compromised its 501(c)(3) status.
This quote was posted on 9/2/2015 on Marin Community Newspapers News: “The current MHM board’s desire to kill the nonprofit – and all of its financial reporting – moves forward. “ Chris Rooney
As is obvious from reading this document, since early in 2013, the challenges the reconstituted board has faced have been enormous. Disturbing facts that were discovered necessitated eliminating some board members and nearly all staff, and the remaining few board members faced a daunting task. They kept the Museum open and increased programming and community outreach, an admirable achievement. Five of the current eight board members came on board in 2014, knowing there it would not be an easy ride; nevertheless, they were concerned enough to commit to help.
The current Board of Directors is a working board – on average, each Director has volunteered anywhere from 5 to 60 hours per week since Spring 2013. In addition to its monthly in-person meeting, the board convenes via conference call on a weekly basis. Board members who are part of the Board Admin Team work side-by-side throughout the week at the Museum’s modest office, paid for by one of its board members. No decisions are made unilaterally – all options are discussed, opined and weighed, and decisions are collectively agreed upon, executed and monitored.
The vicious statements and opinions reported in the media about and around the reconstituted board's efforts to keep the Museum open and operating have all but destroyed the Museum's ability to attract charitable donations and credible business and community leaders to join the Museum board and team. Nonetheless, the current Board of Directors continues to expend countless hours and effort and make in-kind and cash contributions to preserve and protect the Marin History Museum.
We urge and welcome the support of our Marin community to keep our precious Museum vital and sustainable.
It is estimated that the Museum needs at least $300,000 per year to house and protect the Collections and retain appropriately credentialed and experienced staff to do the minimum of the necessary modern work of preserving, cataloging and displaying Marin County's treasured historic assets.
Please step up and be an important part of the solution!
(415) 454-8538 www.marinhistory.org
August 24, 2015.
We are posting materials in relation to the Marin County District Attorney's public announcement.
Marin History Museum's current Board of Directors has worked tirelessly to preserve and protect the treasures of Marin's history, including the monetization of less than 1% of our Collections to protect the greater Collections that are presently housed in the Craemer Family Collections & Research Facility in Novato, California. Attached is documentation of what was released, sold and returned to the Marin History Museum.
We continue to seek a professional, respectable, preservation-oriented, Marin- and family-based group who is positioned to bring the Museum to the next level of sustainability.
Our hope is that our strong commitment to the Museum’s mission to collect, preserve intact and share Marin’s history will quell any negative community concerns that have been shared in the spirit of sensationalism.
Your interest, support and ongoing collaboration are welcome and appreciated.
Marin History Museum Board of Directors
* Joan Capurro *Karin Hern *Kramer Herzog * Ann Laurence *Mike Pile *Lowell Smith *Lisa Treshnell *Jean Zerrudo
June 11, 2015. The Marin County District Attorney has recently requested that the Marin History Museum provide copies of its records dating back to over a decade ago.
The Museum Board of Directors remarks as follows:
*********************** P R E S S S T A T E M E N T ************************
The District Attorney is requesting documents which the Museum is more than happy to locate and provide. It is consistent with the information we have been providing to the California Attorney General.
Producing all of these documents is a perfect means to provide the true facts and clarify the actual history of the Museum's activities as opposed to all of the speculation
circulating in the community.
Most of the documents in the request are from many years prior to when the present board was elected and were under the direction and management of prior boards and Museum staff.
Board of Directors
Marin History Museum
June 11, 2015
P R E S S S T A T E M E N T
May 28, 2015
As a result of our earlier announcement of our intention to dissolve the Marin History Museum, the Board of Directors has received an outpouring of support. 7 groups have expressed interest in participating in the Museum’s future – including cultural organizations and museums. One group that has not been identified in the press is proposing both short –term funding and a long term sustainability plan for the Museum.
Our Board's primary objective is to not dissolve and to keep the Collections intact in Marin. If that objective cannot be met with a single proposal that the Attorney General's office approves, then our secondary objective will be to have different parts of the Museum’s collections distributed amongst qualified 501(c)(3) organizations in Marin County, consistent with our legal obligations as Trustees of a private, nonprofit public benefit corporation.
We continue to reconcile our accounting of assets released, sold and returned to the Museum. As previously stated, the Museum requested of our former estate sales firm on April 19, 2015 to cease any further sales of any of our approximately 300 assets from our collection of 20,000 items. Unsold items were returned to the Museum’s Collections facility on May 6, 2015.
Board of Directors
Marin History Museum
May 28, 2015
UPDATE FROM THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, MARIN HISTORY MUSEUM
May 11, 2015
The Marin History Museum Board of Directors continues in its commitment to keep the Marin community informed about its activities and to correct any erroneous or inaccurate information that has been disseminated by the press and individual critics.
The Marin History Museum’s Board speaks publicly through the Board’s President or other Board-appointed designee. All issues and opportunities are thoroughly discussed, carefully weighed and unanimously decided upon by the Board.
After careful consideration and exhaustion of available options following three years of fund-raising efforts and outreach to the Marin Community, the Board met with the City of San Rafael and the County of Marin prior to concluding its decision to dissolve and seek another non-profit 501(c)(3) to care for the Museum’s Collections.
Vacating the Boyd Gate House
· Heavy rains in December 2014 triggered flooding inside the then Museum-occupied Boyd Gate House, with a subsequent, noticeable change in the air quality.
· In late January 2015, the Boyd Gate House was found to be uninhabitable and unsuitable for workers and public entry due to a mold infestation. The mold presence was officially reported by an air and water science firm to the Museum Board, and the written environmental report was shared with the owner/landlord, the City of San Rafael.
· Mold remediation of the Museum’s belongings was required. All artifacts were professionally cleaned, packed and relocated to MHM’s Collections facility in Novato, and all mission-critical business items to a temporary office space. The Boyd Gate House was emptied and restored to “broom clean” and returned to the City, the City and MHM mutually agreed to terminate the lease after the Museum paid the City proceeds of the $50,000 it had raised for repairs of the facility.
Monetization of Selected Assets
· The Museum was unable to raise enough funds to sustainably continue its operations and determined that it was necessary to monetize certain MHM assets in order to protect the larger Collections while it works through the dissolution process. This is a standard, legal, acceptable practice, commonplace in other museums and non-profits.
· The full Board evaluated and approved the engagement with what became the Museum’s licensed, bonded and insured independent estate sales contractor, B and C Estate Sales. Job scope was to identify limited items as potential candidates for monetization, pending Museum release by the Board/its designee. Limited items were to be chosen and agreed upon for removal by both parties involved. Additionally, B and C was to appraise Museum artifacts that are part of its permanent collection and ineligible for release.
· The Board entrusted B and C to access the MHM Collections facility on its own. This is a standard business practice used by bonded, licensed, insured estate sales appraisers.
· The Museum’s Board designee was instructed to personally qualify each candidate item, and then to release to B and C only if the candidate item met two specific criteria – that the item was non-Marin history specific and non-donor restricted. This process was to be achieved via query into the Museum's database and files.
· The Museum’s Board designee in this process – Marcie Miller – had been a long-term MHM employee until April of 2014, when her status changed to Volunteer Director of Programming. The Board separated her from further Museum representation in mid-March 2015.
· No items were sold to B and C. The Museum only released unrestricted items to B and C for the estate sales process.
· On Friday 4/17/15, the County of Marin offered to provide MHM with operating funds to carry us through the dissolution process, which enabled us to discontinue monetizing assets. On Sunday, 4/19/15, MHM was able to reach B and C’s owner and requested that he cease selling its released items, immediately return them to MHM, and advise MHM of current sales proceeds. B and C responded with a written Agreement Termination Letter on 4/20/15, and subsequently returned the Museum’s unsold items on 5/6/15.
· Bottom line: The Museum is presently auditing and reconciling the lists of items released, items sold and items returned. Of the estimated 20,000 items in the Marin History Museum’s Collections, our abbreviated review indicates that the Museum listed and released 276 items to B and C for possible sale. The Board has learned that some items that did not meet the specified requirements for sale also were released to B and C or taken in error on 2/26/15. As a result, some of these items were sold by B and C, and we are continuing our audit and reconciliation of all released, sold and returned items.
· The Board of Directors’ announcement to dissolve the Museum has resulted in outreach from many supporters in the Marin community. We continue to work diligently to safeguard and maintain the Collections and will continue to focus on those efforts.
· We also continue to meet with qualified and interested parties who want to assist in the preservation of the Museum and its assets.
The Marin History Museum Board of Directors continues to take its fiduciary responsibilities as trustees very seriously and is committed to the collection, preservation and sharing of Marin’s rich history. We continue to work cooperatively with representatives of the California Attorney General’s office, given their oversight role of the dissolution process for non-profit corporations.
Please continue to visit our website for updated information as it becomes available at www.marinhistory.org.
Thank you sincerely, to our members and supporters, for your interest and support.
B O A R D O F D I R E C T O R S
Joan Capurro Karin Hern, Esq. S.Kramer Herzog Ann Laurence
Mike Pile Lowell Smith Lisa Treshnell Jean Zerrudo
M A R I N H I S T O R Y M U S E U M
Check out these recent Marin History Videos produced by Marin's very own Ed Dudkowski.
Ed is a highly acclaimed TV innovator and visionary with multiple patents. Read more here.
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A women of historic firsts, Louise Boyd explored the globe.
In scrapbooks curated at the Marin History Museum, news clippings from newspapers around the world, in several languages, proclaim the events in Louise Boyd’s life. “Arctic Diana,” “The Girl Who Tamed the Arctic,” read the headlines. The old Independent Journal announces the gala receptions for the Marin Music Chest. And then there are little clippings about a dinner for several friends or a tea to raise money for a worthy cause.
These two phases of Louise Boyd’s life lie side by side on the scrapbook page; the Arctic explorer and the society woman. Louise Boyd was a paradox. She seemed to slip from one lifestyle to the other so easily. It has always been a puzzle how Louise Boyd accomplished the transition so gracefully.
Read more about Louise Boyd here