6/15/10: The Jersey City Museum

June 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm (art, culture, jersey city)

Rumors are circling again that the Jersey City Museum is now closed for good. I hope they’re not true, and in fact I think there’s very little reason for them to be true. A few years ago, the Museum was a pretty hopping place, and very easily it could be again.

From where I’m sitting, watching the museum fall apart is a very frustrating thing because it simply doesn’t have to be this way. I can’t understand why the hell we’ve gotten to this point, but to me the solution seems rather simple and direct.

And so, I submit to you, my three-step plan to keep the JC Museum in business, thought up while I was getting dinner ready:

1. Request money from people likely to give it to you. If you were to total up the number of people who have shown in solo or group shows at the museum, plus those who have given money to the museum either in memberships or by participating in programming in the past, you would easily have a couple of thousand people that you could email and hit up for donations. Emailing people is free, and I can’t understand why you haven’t done this already. For many people, sending you $10 or $25 is totally doable and easy, and not the kind of thing they really expect anything in return for, other than to see you survive and keep your doors open. Again, emailing people to ask for money is a possible way to raise money completely for free. You need to make it known that small donations are not only welcome but actually crucial for your existence. 

2. Talk to the press. I know, it’s hard to interest the press in covering a story in Jersey City because we always have what goes on across the Hudson as our competition. But you can try. And an excellent way to get people interested in helping you is to actually tell them you need assistance and to remind them of the great work you’ve done in the past. But you’re going to have to reach a little further than the Jersey Journal or the Newark Star Ledger to get the word out. Those newspapers are fine and are a great place to start, but you have to keep going and try and get places like the NY Times to write about you. I know, it’s crazy that there are people who live in JC and don’t read the local papers, but… well, hey, I happen to be one of those people.

3. With the money you have raised from Steps 1 and 2, actually do some programming. Having the museum open one day a week is not a great way to convince the community that your museum is the vital institution that it is. And I understand that fully staffing up the museum and keeping it open 6 or 7 days a week may not be an option. But it’s summer now, and there’s tons of people wandering around, looking for stuff to do in the evenings and on the weekends. Film screenings, panel discussions, performances, how-to demos, kids projects…. these things should all be very, very cheap to put together and will generate you income and interest. Super easy example: The Lowes Theater just did its last screening of the summer; wouldn’t their audience be awesome to tap into? The equipment and space is all there at the museum already; with just a little money raised it seems that you could very quickly generate more if you were creative.

I don’t think this should be so hard. I think it’s still savable. So, what do you say, JC Museum?

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