News and Events
January 27, 2010
The CCA held its quarterly members meeting at the Museum last night. Three new potential programs were presented to the members attending the meeting and, in the light of the morning, we're all trying to sort it all out. Things are moving so very quickly and we must respond so very quickly. (Sorry, I'm in a bit of a blur with very little sleep behind me.) All three programs involve civic engagement at level not previously experienced by this Museum, or any other for that matter. The first of these programs only obtained funding approval just prior to the meeting and has the ungainly title of "Linking Community Assets to Climate Change." (!) There are many "ifs" related to this and the other two potential programs and it is still uncertain how the future will unfold. If the Museum steps forward for this challenge and if we are accepted, we will be engaging in some truly "leading edge" activities. (Honestly, I don't know whether to be excited or terrified or both.) One thing is certain; I'm headed for more training at the Field Museum. (How on Earth did I go from "Stoichiometry 101" to "Civic Engagement 1" forty years later? The building's alarms are going off. Is this a warning?) There is very much to be decided and very quickly. I will do my best to keep our patrons advised so please check this page with some frequency.
Rosa Cabrera of the Field Museum explaining the new programs to CCA members last night:
Prior to the meeting Dan Pogorzelski stopped in to discuss some problems he found with our Facebook page. Without going through all the bizarre details, suffice to say that after a bit of time at the computer, the problems got sorted out. My thanks to Dan for his help. I hope our patrons who have tried to follow us on Facebook will be much less frustrated in the future. I do apologize to those patrons who will now have to "re-friend" the Museum.
Gosh! Reviewing previous blogs, I only now realized that I neglected to update several items. The Wheaton College lecture went very well last Thursday. The Pierce School visit on Friday also went very well. It is very important to note that processing 90 sixth graders through the Paderewski Room without incident or angst on my part, is quite an achievement. Furthermore, the new design directly addressed the information the teachers wanted the students to know. (I love satisfied customers!) Sorry, I got too involved with both visits and failed to take photos.
Workers are here and have started the Royal Sleigh Exhibit/ Mold removal/ Gallery ceiling removal projects. (Sure! Throw me a few more flaming torches to juggle!)
Finally, I am preparing a modified version of my Chicago Immigration lecture for delivery at the U of I School of Dentistry, Lunch Lecture program on February 16. The changes are necessary because it will be a more formal presentation and not as interactive as my usual.
January 26, 2010
We are still on track to launch PMA 4.0 English version Monday morning, probably around 11:00. As before, if you have bookmarked the old address, it will redirect you to the new sight. This feature will last only for a short time so be sure to change the bookmark. David and I will do one final review on Monday morning before the launch to try and catch any problems we may have overlooked. I am determined that 4.0 will be free of the problems that plagued my 3.0 version. There will be no links to blank pages right from the beginning. Two years ago I thought, "I'll just add the content later." but "later" never happened. We're also streamlining 4.0 from a maintenance standpoint. That is, I will have fewer pages to check when updates are needed and therefore will not frustrate you with out-of-date pages. The new format for the Home Page is much like the format for this page which has proven to be both popular and easy to maintain. The Polish version of 4.0 will launch on March 2, the day after our Pulaski Day celebrations. After discussions with David yesterday I am now highly confident that this target date will be met and that the Polish version will be much less frustrating to use. Again, my learning experience with 3.0 has given me much greater insight to approaching a dual language website. (Curiously, I checked a number of other ethnic-American websites and found that most do not have multi-lingual versions.)
Our plans for the Pisanki (dyed Easter eggs) workshop on March 20 are now finalized. The flyer and reservation form should be available soon. There will be a limit on the number of spaces available for the workshop.
January 18, 2010
We had few visitors last week but we had a bit of a rebound over the weekend. We intend to officially launch the English version of our re-designed website, PMA4.0 on February 1, 2010. We will try to launch the Polish version on March 2, 2010, the day after Pulaski Day. If you wish to view the beta version of PMA4.0 and make comments please click on the following link http://www.polishmuseumofamerica.org/beta/PMAStart.htm We are still working on the graphics and the final version of the header graphics will not be ready on February 1. David Majkowski has come up with the idea of showing five different views of the Great Hall, one each showing the exhibit space at each of the four walls and one showing the space filled with people on Pulaski Day. These five photos would appear in sequence as the Home Page loads and the final photo to show will be the Pulaski Day photo that will remain at the top as long as the page is viewed. I have seen this technique used on other websites and does add a little more visual interest. It is rather hard to find a meaningful graphic for a museum website. Some don't bother to try. While many people have fast internet connections, others still use dial-up modems. We have maintained the philosophy here that our main pages should not take more than 30 seconds to load at dial-up speed. That "rule" limits the decorative aspects we can apply; Our main objective is in providing information.
With David's help I am preparing to offer some of our books for sale. These were published by the Museum some years ago and have been for sale before at our annual book sale but never offered beyond that. I checked a few websites and discovered that these books do not show up on anyone's list so I guess we'll be an exclusive source for a while at least. Look for the announcement on the Home Page in a few days. You may be wondering if these will be sold through our Gift Shop and the answer is "No." The Museum/ Library/ Archives and the Gift Shop are actually two different entities with separate tax filings, reporting and management. The Museum is official a 501c3 corporation, not-for-profit while the Gift Shop is a for-profit organization. Whatever the Museum pays for, say publication of a book, can be sold by the Museum. Whatever the Gift Shop purchases, say a published book, the Gift Shop must charge sales tax and report the profits. Every year at the Summer Ball the Gift Shop donates most of its profits to the Museum but must and does retain a certain amount to maintain operations, that is, to buy things to sell. The page we will be setting up will be to sell items that the Museum has obtained independent from the Gift Shop.
David and I are also working on an electronic version of our quarterly newsletter. We hope to have the first trial version (Winter edition) available in March on the website After that, it will be available to members only. We are doing this in an effort to reduce our costs. It takes approximately $1.00 per issue to print and mail a newsletter; $4.00 per member per year. If we can get a significant number of members to receive the newsletter electronically instead of by mailbox, we can save a significant amount of money. If you are a member and want to receive the newsletter electronically you will need to send me your email address. Note: We do not give out email addresses to anyone! We realize that people are very sensitive letting out their email addresses. The list that will be generated will be maintained in a high security area for use only to email the newsletters and will not be used for any other purpose or shared with any other organization.
The renovated Paderewski Room continues to receive rave reviews and we are very happy about that. More work needs to be done on signage and touchscreen content but that is coming along. The biggest problem we now find is that people are not allowing sufficient time for their visits and sometimes have to leave for other appointments without seeing the Paderewski Room.
Last week was difficult with all the snow. Road conditions on Thursday discouraged me from attempting to make it to the Museum. We are closed on Thursdays anyway. Conditions did not improve much on Friday so I stayed home again. Others must have felt the same because we had no visitors on Friday and few over the weekend. Conditions are forecast to moderate this week and we're hoping for a rebound in the number of visitors. Tomorrow we will host an event for Comcast where they will present three community service awards and announce a new service package targeted at the Polish-American community in Chicago. The Modjeska costumes have been removed from exhibit and are now in storage.
January 4, 2010
Happy New Year!
2009 certainly did not end well at the Museum. The evening before Christmas Eve all the computers and servers in the building crashed. The Museum's website did not come back online until December 26. I was not able to get back onto the system until this morning. A decision was made on December 28 to close the Museum on January 2 and 3 because the number of visitors was expected to be very small. The cost of Staff, Security and utilities was just too large to justify for so few people. Because of the computer outage, I was not able to update our Closures page on the website. I apologize if anyone was inconvenienced. On December 28 I also discovered that mold had returned to the three areas that were repaired earlier this year. Click here to view that blog. This is a significant problem. Just the previous week we had finally begun to put back the art that had been hanging in these areas before the problem began.
The old fourth floor Gallery has been used as a temporary storage area for over two years, made necessary by other project work. We are now preparing to return this area to public exhibition. This will start with the removal of a false ceiling that was unwisely installed in the area thirty years ago. The area above that false ceiling must be inspected and any damage from the water leaks of last year repaired.
We have now initiated our plan to modify the Modjeska exhibit and change it over to "Royal Warsaw." The Modjeska costumes can no longer be on display until they receive proper conservation. They are quite literally falling apart. They will be put in conservation boxes until funds can be raised for the necessary work. The other Modjeska items have been moved to a display case and the wall adjacent to the old display area. That area will be revised to display the newly restored Royal Sleigh and to display more information about the city of Warsaw. The new exhibit will open on February 26, 2010 with a special event.
Please be sure that you have eliminated the old @prcua email addresses for Museum personnel. Very soon that old format will no longer be accepted. Please convert any Museum addresses you have to @polishmuseumofamerica.org. Also please make sure that you have changed the Museum's mailing address to the new ZIP code 60642. Very soon the US Post Office will not deliver to the old ZIP code.
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