The Unmanaged Collection: Solving Big Problems with Little Resources


Melinda McCrary, Executive Director at Richmond Museum of History
Patricia McCloy, Graduate Student in Museum Studies at John F. Kennedy University


  • Collections

The Monica Haley Collection of children’s art was donated to the Richmond Museum of History in 1997 and has been the focus of considerable attention including loans, exhibitions, and a descriptive book published in 2011. However, basic tasks associated with collection management, such as compiling an electronic inventory, labeling, and appropriate housing were never completed.        

Monica Haley was an art teacher in the Maritime Childcare Centers (1943-1966) in Richmond, a short lived childcare program funded by the government and established for the families working in the Kaiser Shipyards during World War II. Monica saved art made in her classes, including paintings, cut and paste, line drawings, wood block prints, going so far as to name and date most of the pieces.

This poster explores the methods, failures, and successes employed a by museum with an annual budget of less than $100,000, one graduate student, and two part-time staff (one is a 2013 graduate with an M.A. in Museum Studies). The ultimate goals of the project include a complete inventory, conserve/stabilize the collection, and develop a traveling exhibit to educate the public and garner much needed revenue.

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