Village News

Museum Finances – Part II

We all know how much people enjoy reading, talking and thinking about finances. So I thought we would offer a “Part II” (and maybe even a “Part III”?) to the article we published several weeks ago and make a series out of it. As our faithful readers will recall, Part I dealt with the high-level financial structure of Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). This article will get us down to a level of more detail.

We noted in Part I that about 60% of our revenue comes from our internal operations, which include food services, gift shop, facility rentals and admission. 15% of our operating income comes from government grants, and 25% from donations and fundraising activities.

So one might ask, “Where is that money spent?” MHV’s largest single expenditure is employee costs (wages, benefits and statutory deductions).

We employ curators to look after our large collection of valuable artifacts and to create relevant, effective and high-quality exhibits for our galleries. Their work requires specialized education and training in Mennonite history and museum operations.

Our Education Program requires staff with vision, energy and expertise to create and administer programs for 3,000 – 4,000 students annually. The delivery of this program largely falls within four months of the year, so the coordination of the program is quite intense during those months.

While the hours of operation for our Livery Barn Restaurant are limited to a relatively short day, it needs to function with regularity and professionalism, in strict compliance with government health standards. Approximately a dozen staff members are required in full-time, part-time and casual roles.

Renting our facilities to wedding parties, businesses, families and individuals requires staff availability at irregular hours, particularly with respect to evening and weekend functions that require supervision. And there are other critical positions.

This museum has grown over the years and is now well past the stage where it can be run primarily by volunteers, as was possible many years ago. While we still depend on many volunteers for the delivery of much of our programing, all of the abovementioned functions (and others) at MHV require regular and professional attention. Hence our significant labour cost.

Another area of ongoing major expenditure is facility maintenance, given our host of heritage and commercial buildings to maintain. Our energy costs alone are in the neighbourhood of $4,000 monthly. We can quickly see that this museum has an expense appetite substantially larger than that of one’s home.

Capital expenditures (sometimes unpredictable) continue to be significant, for new acquisitions as well as the replacement of roofs, furnaces and the like. Our village has 17 wooden heritage structures, all needing a considerable amount of care and maintenance. Most of these costs fall into our capital (or project) fund, which is over and above our operating fund. Right now we have three leaking roofs, a decaying deck on the windmill, and three furnaces that need to be replaced. These are relatively urgent projects, requiring about $150,000 to accomplish.

Almost three years ago, MHV introduced our Foundations for a Strong Future campaign, established to fund the construction of our Summer Pavilion, the restoration of the Waldheim House, the replacement of all the HVAC systems in our Village Centre, the elimination of our operating debt and the enhancement of our endowment fund. This campaign has so far been successful in that it has generated $2,250,000 toward a $3,000,000 goal. To now complete that campaign, another $750,000 in donations and pledges is needed.

Yes, it does seem that our need for cash is unending. We invite our constituency to continue to provide regular support, especially for our annual operating fund. We also invite people who value the work of the museum to consider some additional donations toward some of our larger projects and our campaign, without shortchanging our essential operating fund. We encourage you to join us in our mission to preserve and teach our history to youth and adults alike, to create and maintain a community meeting place, and to generate tourism for our region.

The Author

Barry Dyck

Barry Dyck

  • Executive Director
  • Mennonite Heritage Village
  • Steinbach, Manitoba