Executive Director’s Message

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

The exchanging of gifts is certainly one of the most mem­orable parts of every holiday season. Even state agencies, such as the Pennsylvania His­torical and Museum Commis­sion, make a yearly “wish list” in the hopes of garnering holiday generosity. Our list this year places an emphasis upon the invisible Commission – and the needs that are not immediately evident to the public, but remain essential to managing our programs effectively.

Heading the list is our per­ennial need to maintain the dozens of historic buildings and structures, as well as the expansive grounds, committed to our care by the Common­wealth. Currently, many of our facilities count deteriorating structures, but what is of greater concern is the slow, yet steady, damage that occurs because routine maintenance is lacking. We have estimated that two and a half-million dollars is needed for annual maintenance; the present funding falls seriously below that level. The necessary money is, indeed, a modest investment for nearly five hundred buildings and five thousand acres of gardens, historic landscapes, recrea­tional and scenic areas, battle­fields and parks.

Computers have become a necessity in the office. The Commission staff has devel­oped considerable expertise in the use of various computer programs, even designed soft­ware for special applications. What we need now is an agency-wide system and the staff to operate it, so that we can provide administrative support for staff based in Har­risburg, as well as linkages for our twenty-seven historic sites and museums.

Next on our holiday wish list are adequate facilities for conservation and storage. With almost two million arti­facts and objects – coupled with more than one hundred and forty million pages of documents and records – the Commission’s collections are enormous. In addition to de­veloping another one hundred thousand square feet of stor­age space, we must also com­plete our Commonwealth Conservation Center by in­stalling proper air handling systems and by purchasing additional equipment.

Lest my wish list make me appear greedy, let me add that if one is to receive, one must also give. Therefore, allow me to share a partial listing of resolutions we have made for the coming year.

First, we will complete the United States Brig Niagara, our sailing museum berthed in Erie, which is destined to become one of the Common­wealth’s great historic attrac­tions.

Second, we will publish a guide to the fifteen hundred state historical markers placed by the Commission through­out Pennsylvania. This will be the first such guide published by the agency in many years.

Third, we will open a major new exhibit at The State Mu­seum of Pennsylvania devoted to the story of the Works Pro­gress Administration in the Commonwealth; this exhibit will tell the story of those critical years, when America rebuilt its economic and social fabrics from the depths of the Great Depression.

And, finally, we will pro­duce another four great edi­tions of Pennsylvania Heritage with lively and colorful stories of the Keystone State’s rich and abundant history, culture and art.

The staff joins me in wish­ing each and everyone a safe and joyous holiday season!

Brent D. Glass
Executive Director