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Final designs, collection policy for museum

By Lisa Brody

The Birmingham Museum received unanimous approval from the Birmingham City Commission at their meeting Monday, December 7, to develop a formal collections policy as well as approval of their final designs for its Heritage Zone and implementation for primary signage, fencing and gates.


Museum director Leslie Pielak explained their board had updated its strategic plan for 2021-2024, with an important goal to begin work on the Heritage Zone enhancements of the 2018 landscape master plan. These include installation of primary signage and fencing modifications in the area around the Allen and Hunter Houses which face Maple Road. She said the project will also raise awareness of the museum's planned landscape restoration and help with future fundraising efforts.


Pielak said conservation experts anticipate the first phase to cost approximately $19,000, and they have raised $15,000. “Additional funds are available in the museum budget and as additional donations from the Friends of the Birmingham Museum become available if needed. The remainder of the Heritage Zone improvements consist of relocation of utilities, garden bed preparation, planting materials, and construction of a vine support at a cost of approximately $21,500. These project components would be planned as additional funds become available,” she said.


As for a formal collections policy, Pielak explained it is an integral document utilized by museums, libraries and archival institutions to specify the nature of the organization’s collection and the policies needed to provide for its management, care, and intended use.


“The Birmingham Museum lacks a formal collections policy to provide clear guidance on matters relating to its artifact collection for the benefit of the city and the public,” she said.


She noted the artifacts in the museum belong to the city. “A clear policy that establishes the objectives for collecting, tracking, storing, exhibiting, loaning, and removing artifacts is needed to ensure that collection activities are being conducted in the best interest of the city and the public and to provide continuity in museum operations,” Pielak said.


Commissioners agreed, voting 6-0, with commissioner Clinton Baller not in attendance.

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