Marine Art Museum hosts first community report, shares plans of next three years

·3 min read

May 19—WINONA — Much of the news coming out of the Minnesota Marine Art Museum the last few weeks has focused on the departure of the famous painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware" by Emanuel Leutze.

Wednesday night changed the focus from the Marine Art Museum's past to its future as MMAM hosted its first in-person report to the community.

MMAM, like many museums, had struggled financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MMAM lost 60% percent of its revenue over the last two years but was still able to maintain costs for expenses over that time period.

"We've made it through this without having to cut any staff members in the last year," said MMAM board chairman Bill Hoel. "Eighteen years we've been around, and we really owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone of our donors."

For 2021, MMAM accumulated just less than $1 million in revenue, earning $989,752 in total. Expenses for MMAM in 2021 were $880,930 for the nonprofit organization, finalizing a net income of $108,822 for 2021.

MMAM Executive Director Scott Pollock said 2021 was not an easy year.

"We were all struggling to figure out how we were going to keep the museum going and have managed to find a way," he said.

The community report brought a preview on what the museum sees for its future with galleries, community engagement and artist partnerships over the next three years.

"Since Jan. 6, we have been thinking about all the changes in each gallery," said Pollock. "Many of the museum's original collections will be moving elsewhere over time. Our main question is what other works can we think about for our galleries that showcase art through water?"

While Pollock shared that many of the original artworks that have been at MMAM since its opening in 2004 will not all be on display in the years past, they will not entirely be going away. The 624 original artworks will stay with the museum's current collection on display for the next 28 months.

MMAM is looking at how it can increase visitors and participants through community engagement partnerships with the Winona Community Foundation, and other regional partnerships with all three higher education institutions in town. In 2021, MMAM totaled 32,044 visitors and participants through their exhibits and programs. The goal is to eclipse that by 8,000 this year.

"We're trying to get out of our current ecosystem (and) into new ecosystems within the Winona community to see how we become more engaged with the community than we currently are," Pollock said. "Over 60% of our visitors come from outside of the Winona region, so how do we continue to grow our audience within the region? We shouldn't be expecting people to have to come to us all the time."

To help get the number of visitors up in 2022 from 2021, MMAM is also starting free events such as Toddler Tuesdays, in addition to free student Tuesdays, and Seasonal Saturdays throughout the summer. Also in July and August, the museum will be open until 7 p.m.

Among all these other changes, MMAM is looking to change its energy practices to become one of the most environmentally friendly museums in the Midwest by 2030. Pollock spoke on how MMAM is working to save on energy and pollution output with existing infrastructure before investing in new infrastructure.

"One opportunity was we converted all of our gallery lighting a number of years ago to the best energy-efficient gallery. It's amazing how you have to have a specific lighting on historic artworks, and to add a layer of energy efficiency to that," said Pollock.

For the remainder of 2022, MMAM will have three $30,000 goal fund-raising campaigns that will help to increase the number of artworks at the museum, increase community engagement opportunities and improve the environmental practices of the museum. Donors can make contributions toward these campaigns either at the museum or on the MMAM website,