Museum in need of volunteers

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The Dearborn Historical Museum is in need of volunteers to help keep the museum running smoothly.

Dearborn Historical Museum Acting Chief Curator Michael Jack Tate spoke to about 30 residents about the need Sept. 20 at the McFadden-Ross House, 915 S. Brady. The League of Women Voters Dearborn-Dearborn Heights presented the event.

“We are going to need the help of everybody who is willing,” Tate said.

When the City Council adopted the city’s 2012-13 budget on May 29, the museum, along with city entities and municipalities had to trim excess costs to remain within the city’s budget.

During the budget adoption, councilors approved the elimination of the chief curator position, held for the past six years by Kirt Gross.

Gross currently works at the Henry Ford Centennial Library as an assistant librarian.

The museum saved $132,561 for the 2013 fiscal year beginning July 1 after eliminating the curator position, among other changes, city Finance Director Jim O’Connor said in June. O’Connor said the museum originally cost $311,252 to operate.

During the budget adoption the city also eliminated two out of four part-time museum positions; the two other employees left their jobs shortly after, Tate said.

Tate said he needs volunteers to take up janitorial duties and docent responsibilities, along with several other volunteer positions.

“Unlike anything in the past, we have written up job descriptions we want people to volunteer for,” Tate said. “It is up to me and you.”

Tate said a few positions are currently filled but many more spots are open. One volunteer position requires the volunteer to maintain the museum membership list and send out and process museum renewals, Tate said.

Tate said because he recently took over the curator position the entire volunteer recruiting process is a learning experience.

“The first few people who work with me … it is going to be a learning proposition for both of us,” Tate said. “So I am learning these jobs and hopefully the people we get to volunteer can learn together (with me).”

Tate added that the maintenance-volunteer position includes dusting antiques and sweeping floors.

“I can’t do alone,” Tate said. “And we need people to do this. I only have two staff members and they are not going to have time to do this, so if anybody is interested in helping…yes we need help.”

Tate said docents are also needed to assist in the archival department.

An accession clerk is needed to research the history and any other information tied to an object before it is accepted into the museum.

Tate said a grant writer is also needed to write and research grants for the museum.

“We’d like to get someone in to write research grants for all kinds of projects,” Tate said. “So anybody who has knowledge of grants or researching, we would love to have (them) sign up for that.”

Tate also said donations are needed to help keep the museum afloat.

“We need current money to run the place,” Tate said. “We need to put an endowment fund for the future and grants and also raise funds for building and repair projects.”

For more information about fundraiser opportunities, volunteering or donating money go to the museum’s website at