Every so often it becomes necessary to close a museum building. Maybe it’s because of a facility issue, or a lack of funding, or an organizational shift, or any number of other reasons.

But what do you do when it comes time to close your building? Some of you may have attended the Alliance Annual Meeting and even sat in on the session on this topic. This is a brief summary of my institution’s experience closing a building which was presented in that session.

In spring 2012,  a leak in our museum’s roof had caused extensive damage to the roof, ceiling, and several exhibits. (Don’t worry, no artifacts were damaged.) An assessment of the damage revealed that the building needed a new roof, but doing this required an asbestos and mold abatement.

The sluggish economy keeps us from constructing a new facility, and the new roof and abatements are too expensive, so our only option was to close the museum building and move out. We were lucky. We could move into an historic house, but we didn’t have exhibits programmed for the house.

So what were we to do until we could program the house? We:

  • ramped up our social media efforts,
  • built our online presence on an open source wiki platform (with the help of our public library technology gurus), and
  • took our exhibits to where the people were. In our case, we had banner exhibits designed and printed to display in libraries, recreation centers, City Hall, and at numerous special events.

All of these efforts kept the museum in the public eye as we prepared the house museum for visitors.

So, have any of you been in a similar situation? What did you do when faced with closure of your building?