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Old 12-19-2011, 11:34 PM
Location: Tampa, FL
181 posts, read 286,813 times
Reputation: 103


So my husband and I would prefer life in a smaller city (than Tampa). BUT he's a museum guy. So, generally speaking what are the chances someone could start a non-profit, probably science center in a small town and it succeed?

The vast majority of museums are in metro areas because people only visit once a year or so and you count on tourism too to stay afloat.

For those of you who live in say <50,000 population towns, do you have museums? Sounds like a stupid, ignorant question, but we saw one crop up in Cookeville, TN and die in about a year's time and it wasn't a good sign for us!!

And can you give a couple details like population size or whatever you think it is that contributed to the sucess of failure of the local museum?

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Old 12-20-2011, 12:05 AM
5,879 posts, read 5,360,500 times
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Actually, there are thousands of museums in small cities and towns in America, and have been since the mid 19th century. There are more museums in small towns than in large cities.

Fine art, science, and natural history museums are more likely to be found in small towns which have universities, although there are many exceptions.

History museums have been community focal points for thousands of small towns since the 1890s.

Children's museums (which often have a strong science component) have been exploding onto the scene in small towns for the past 25 years or so.

If you move to a new community thinking you are going to "start" a museum all by yourselves, I strongly question whether or not you really understand what museums are and do. On the other hand, most museums would welcome your volunteerism.

For more information about museums in America, see: AAM: Welcome to the American Association of Museums, American Association for State and Local History, AAMG: Association of Academic Museums & Galleries, and the regional and state museum associations for the region and state in which you are interested in living.

I'll be happy to share detailed information about specific museums which are located in small towns, if you're interested! Just DM me!
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:08 AM
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The town I used to live in has a hands on science center (for lack of a better term.) It had all sorts of things for people of all ages to get into. From physics, to biology, to electricity etc. It featured items of local interest. It is housed in an old powerplant building that wasn't being used.

If you want something to make it, cater to the schools. Hands on along with conventional museum fare would be a good route to run.
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Old 12-20-2011, 12:20 AM
5,879 posts, read 5,360,500 times
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Forgot to mention these museum associations too:
Association of Science - Technology Centers, and www.childrensmuseums.org.

All of the main American museum associations also have Facebook pages.
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Old 12-20-2011, 06:05 AM
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,490 posts, read 52,125,327 times
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Raymond, New Hampshire has a small history museum located in an old railroad station. I never knew a railroad ever went through Raymond.
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Old 12-20-2011, 09:13 AM
58,774 posts, read 83,363,148 times
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You museums like these? Sciencenter, Ithaca NY

Scitech - Home

World Awareness Children's Museum - Glens Falls, New York

Science Discovery Center - SUNY Oneonta
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Old 12-20-2011, 01:34 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
23,509 posts, read 41,105,188 times
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here is a dandy rural science museum, I highly recommend a visit
Montshire Museum: Visit

(Of course, having Dartmouth across the river has a certain advantage)

Maybe you can just get a job / volunteer here, it is a nice place to live and even nicer to visit...
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Old 12-20-2011, 02:25 PM
Location: Lead/Deadwood, SD
948 posts, read 2,396,565 times
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Sanford Underground Laboratory at Homestake
Our little town of about 3,000 people is currently in the process of creating a scientific, cultural outreach program, which will be combined with history and future science. It will be supplementing the lab(s) that are currently under construction. This is not a small project - it's science has ties to the CERN lab in Italy and the Fermi-Lab in Chicago.

It is also not uncommon to come across museums in small mid-west towns that can take days to fully tour - most of them I know of are more heritage/settlement/and mining related.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:51 AM
4,259 posts, read 9,886,220 times
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Here's a museum in a surprising location: Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium
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Old 12-25-2011, 11:54 AM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
18,567 posts, read 55,502,062 times
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Yeah, the Fairbanks Athenium has been around for ages. Went there as a kid. Most small town museums are run by volunteers, and use donated space. When I grew up, ours was the upper floor of the library, and the librarian had to allow you up or accompany you. State historical societies often have much larger museums. Sometimes you'll find a fun museum like the insect museum in Decatur AL, or Coral Castle in Homestead FL.
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