The Spurlock Museum is a cultural museum.
As a University museum, the community we serve includes:
- the campus community—UIUC students, faculty, staff, and alumni
- the State of Illinois, with a focus on the central Illinois community
Whenever possible, we seek to bring these two communities together.
We recognize that our community is diverse and worldly. The Spurlock Museum will undertake collaborative projects that build connections to our community and expect that these projects will result in regional, national, and international partnerships that benefit the community.
The Spurlock is proud to serve as the University’s teaching museum. We value the contributions of our student staff members, not only for the work they perform, but also for the fresh perspectives they bring to our organization, driving innovation and thoughtful change.
As a museum staff, everything we do will focus on serving our visitors to the best of our ability. We define visitors as people who visit our physical or virtual museum space to view exhibitions, participate in programs, and utilize our collections.
All staff will become public-facing and work to create a welcoming space for the community, demonstrate the importance of our work, and celebrate diversity.Mission, Vision, and Core Values
For the next 5 years, the staff of the Spurlock Museum will work together towards the following goals:
- Make the Museum a welcoming space for the community.
- Become a better resource for the campus community.
- Increase diversity, inclusion, and access.
- Be the best possible stewards for our collection.
- Become a space on campus to have important discussions revolving around current cultural topics that are sometimes difficult to talk about (e.g. immigration, cultural appropriation, etc.).
- Increase Museum support and diversify revenue streams in order to become more sustainable and fund an expansion to the Museum.
In order to achieve these goals, we must transform the Museum in the areas of Exhibits, Programs, Collections, Visitor Services and Social Spaces, and Sustainability.
Create a new collecting plan
Acquisitions committee will create a new plan outlining the Spurlock’s priorities for accepting new collections including objects that will help communities tell their own stories, modern works that represent difficult cultural issues, and works that are generated through partnerships.
Create a teaching gallery
Transform part of an existing gallery into a lab-type space that can allow classes of 40 to convene and handle museum collections in a controlled, safe space. Teaching gallery prototype will be developed now. When renovation/addition project is undertaken, teaching gallery will be made permanent and hopefully endowed. This gallery will double as a space for faculty/students to create programs and demonstrations geared towards the public.
Develop a webpage that lists faculty and student resources for using the collections
Faculty and students need to know how they can access the collections for research and assignments. This page will provide information as to which staff member to contact about finding pieces to fit specific topics, requesting objects for research, and requesting permissions for testing. Information about this page will be disseminated by attending department faculty meetings and holding training sessions at the Museum.
Create competitive faculty fellowships for course creation using collections
Offer up to four fellowships per year. Fellows receive personalized attention/direction by staff, up to $500 for course materials, and are named Spurlock Museum fellows for the year.
Develop an ethical collections initiative to ensure all collections were sourced ethically and respond appropriately to requests for return to source communities
Spurlock’s collections are the result of over 100 years of collecting by the University. It is very likely that some materials in our collections were not gathered legally or ethically by donors. Many countries are now asking Museums to give back works that were taken out of the source countries under dubious circumstances. The Spurlock will be proactive and begin researching our collections, beginning with the Native American materials. Spurlock, University, and grant funds will be secured to create temporary positions for researchers. We will work in partnership, when appropriate, with the campus NAGPRA committee.
Create a behind-the-scene experience for visitors
Museums can only display a small percentage of their holdings at any given time. The Spurlock only displays 4% of our collection in our galleries. We need to provide better access to our collections, and in doing so, share with the public what we do here at the Museum and why we do it. With the expansion/addition project we will design an area of collections storage where visitors can walk through and learn about the collections and how they are cared for behind-the-scenes.
Install humidification system to ensure long term preservation of collection
It is imperative that humidification be installed in the existing Museum building as soon as possible. In the future, our collections storage space should also be controlled for humidification. After some study, it makes fiscal sense for the Museum to install the humidification system as part of a larger renovation/expansion of the Museum building.
Secure additional collections storage space, preferably onsite as part of a museum expansion
The current off-site storage is not ideal for the collections in terms of both climate control and security. The current expansion plan calls for additional storage space to be added onto our existing building. This space would allow for at least 75 years of growth and would be the most secure and climate-controlled option. Additionally, our new collecting plan will clearly outline a rate of acquisition of new material so that we will make sure the space can accommodate 75 years of collecting activities.
Create a competitive process to select faculty curators
We need to develop a mechanism to appoint faculty curators who will work with students to develop new exhibits, grant-funded projects, and initiatives at the Museum. One form of compensation for the faculty is to fund course releases for the duration of their Museum appointment.
Create an exhibition plan
This plan will detail the types of subjects we will address in the temporary gallery, how to rotate between campus and community driven subjects, a strategy for turning over exhibits in the permanent galleries, online exhibits, and exhibits that will be shown outside of our building in other venues.
Develop a pathway to select community curators
We have recently started the practice of using community curators to assist the Museum in creating exhibits. We need to create materials that outline the selection process, resources, expectations, and compensation of community curators.
Seek changes to endowments in order to not be restricted to exhibiting collection geographically
Many of our endowments were set up to fund galleries as static galleries dedicated to the display of works from a particular geographic region. The naming rights include this geographic designation. The Spurlock needs to have the freedom to display the collections in a way that is not geographically constrictive. We need the freedom to create exhibits that examine global themes.
Develop a plan for the Central Core Gallery as a Community Gallery
The Core Gallery is a frequently requested space forgatherings, discussions, and programs. With the removal of the display cases, the walls are now a perfect space to hang 2D works. A plan needs to be developed to define use, seating areas, and exhibit types and turnover.
As part of a museum expansion, develop an exhibition space to allow the Spurlock to expand our offerings to include cultural perspectives/connections to natural history and technology
Given Spurlock’s position in the College of LAS (external link), and the wide collections available on campus through the Prairie Research Institute (external link) and other collecting units, expanding our scope to include natural history and technology (in relationship to larger cultural questions) would be beneficial for both campus and the broader community. Collections could be borrowed from other units for display and interpretation could be created in partnership with faculty and staff. Therefore, no additional storage and staffing costs would be incurred by the Museum.
Create a programming plan
This plan will define pathways to expand programming aimed at University students, adults, families, and K-12 audiences. Programming should focus on addressing timely, difficult, or complicated cultural issues. Staffing will be realigned to meet programmatic needs. Funding, with a focus on public and private grantmaking will be included. Programming needs to be expanded on nights and weekends and a signature series of fundraising events should be created. Consideration of programming beyond the walls of the Museum to better serve community needs should be given.
As part of a museum expansion, design flexible areas for programming including meeting space, demo kitchen, etc.
Define staffing needs
More staff time needs to be devoted to fund raising. At a minimum, we need 1 FTE Marketing and Communications Coordinator and 0.5 FTE Major Gifts Officer. Funding for the Marketing and Communications position has been requested from the Provost’s Office. Funding for the increased time of a Major Gifts Officer has been discussed with both LAS and the Provost. We currently share 1 major gifts officer with 4 other units. Other public good units have more support in this crucial area.
This plan will outlinea series of fundraising events and activities the Museum will undertake to build sustainability. Events will appeal to both University and Community audiences and different events will target specific constituencies.
Expand Grant-making, corporate partnerships, and other fund-building activities
Visitor Services and Social Spaces
Create a Visitor Services Plan
This plan will outline how Museum staff will greet and assist visitors during their time at the Museum. Topics to be included in the plan are: Training for front desk and security staff, security staff clothing, and redesigning the lobby space.
Define and create seating and conversation areas in the museum.
As part of a museum expansion, create a café area.
As part of a museum expansion, design flexible areas for social interaction.