$1.6 Million Cut in State Operating Budget Means Service Reductions, Fee Increase at Minnesota Historical Society

For immediate release

Release dated: 
August 24, 2011
Media contacts: 

Lory Sutton • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3140 • lory.sutton@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3148 • jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

$1.6 Million Cut in State Operating Budget Means Service Reductions, Fee Increase at Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society announced plans today to accommodate a $1.6 million cut in state government funding for annual operations of its programs, including its 26 historic sites and museums, library, collections, state archives, educational programs, historic preservation and statewide outreach. Funding from the state, which is $20.4 million for fiscal year 2012, comprises more than half of the Society’s operating budget.

Beginning Dec. 1, 2011, admission fees for the general public will increase by $1 at most historic sites and museums. The last admission increase was in spring of 2008.  

In addition, the Minnesota State Capitol will begin encouraging voluntary donations for its free public tours. Sites and museums, including the Capitol, will continue to offer special fee-based programs, with fees potentially increasing slightly for select offerings.

Although admission fees vary by site and museum, with smaller sites priced at a lower rate, the change will mean that museums such as the Minnesota History Center, Historic Fort Snelling and Mill City Museum will charge $11 for adults, $9 for students and seniors, and $6 for children ages 6-17. Children ages 5 and under will continue to be admitted free of charge, as will members, and the annual membership fee will remain the same. The History Center will continue its open access program of free admission on Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m.  

There will be no admission increase for students visiting historic sites and museums on school field trips. And, the Society will continue to offer financial assistance for school field trips through two innovative programs:  the Legacy Field Trip Support Fund for schools statewide and the MacMillan Field Trip Grants, which enables schools in Greater Minnesota to travel to the Twin Cities. 

Although hours at the Society’s historic sites, museums and library remain unchanged, budgets for all programs are affected by the cut in funding.  In particular, the Society’s collections department has a lessened capacity to acquire and process historic materials, and the Society’s administrative infrastructure was cut in the areas of human resources, marketing and development. In total, through attrition, layoffs and a voluntary separation program, the Society has eliminated about 19 full-time equivalent staff positions due to the state budget cut. 

“The Minnesota Historical Society is sharply focused on serving the people of Minnesota, preserving our history for future generations, and educating our schoolchildren,” said Stephen Elliott, director and CEO. “Our goal in facing the state’s budget crisis is to continue to provide the best possible service, while developing innovative and efficient ways to carry out our mission. In the coming year, we will assess all that we do and how we do it to chart our course for the years ahead—to continue the important, multi-faceted work of history that has distinguished Minnesota’s historical society nationally for more than 160 years.” 

Since 2001, state funding for the Society’s operating budget has decreased by nearly 25%. During that same time period, hours of service to the public at historic sites and the Society’s library were reduced by about 30%, and approximately 25% of the Society’s full-time equivalent staff positions were eliminated.