Executive Director’s Message

From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

Friends and supporters of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission may be interested in the sub­stantial changes made re­cently in the administration of our agency’s major programs and services. While it is un­derstandable that most people “outside” of an organization care very little about in­ternal structure and opera­tions, several of the changes will, I trust, result in sig­nificant improvements in our services to both Pennsyl­vania’s residents and visitors. These changes will also ren­der our multifaceted opera­tions more economical and effi­cient than in previous years. It’s an exciting prospect!

For many years, the Commis­sion’s network of proper­ties – including battlefields, his­toric houses, museums, even an entire village – was managed by two distinct bureaus: one for historic sites, the other for museums. However, sev­eral historic sites had been assigned to the bureau of muse­ums, and several museums were relegated to the care of the bureau of historic sites. It was all too confusing and duplicated functions and opera­tions. At the same time, service functions – many of which are used by the public­ – were somewhat lost in the daily business of property man­agement.

No organizational arrange­ment is a panacea in and of itself but, in an effort to pro­vide more rational and cost efficient management of numer­ous historic sites and muse­ums, the Commission’s two bureaus were merged to estab­lish the new Bureau of His­toric Sites and Museums. In conjunction with the creation of this new bureau, three regional offices responsible for operating, developing and staffing Commission prop­erties in their jurisdiction were initiated. Properties in the eastern region will be adminis­tered from the Washington Crossing Historic Park, Bucks County; the central region from the Pennsylvania Farm Museum, Lancaster County; and the western region from the Drake Well Museum, Titus­ville, Venango County. Each of these sites not only provides an administrative center, but will also serve as the regional service center for the main­tenance of equipment and spon­sorship of workshops, con­ferences and commonly shared special services.

In a separate structure, the staff, programs and re­sources of several major critical functions serving all areas of the Commission have also been combined. The new Bureau of Historical and Mu­seum Services is responsible for managing and caring for the agency’s extensive historical collections; for the devel­opment of the Commonwealth Conservation Center in Har­risburg; for operating the Commission’s local manage­ment and lease program of historic properties; and for pro­viding architectural services to all programs. In addition, the new bureau will manage our extensive publications pro­gram, including Pennsylvania Heritage, and a proposed re­production sales venture; de­velop marketing and pro­motional efforts, including the preparation and publication of brochures and related pro­motional literature; and pro­vide a centralized exhibits de­sign and production capability.

The Bureau of Historical and Museum Services is assigned a number of programs that are public service oriented. As we further refine our opera­tions in each of these areas, we are truly hopeful that citizens of the Commonwealth will enjoy greater access to, and service from, each of these areas. We also hope that this restructuring of programs and functions will offer our staff more opportunities to carry out, with greater quality and efficiency, the extensive responsibilities entrusted to the Commission.

Larry E. Tise
Executive Director