Cultural Education Committee


Carole Huxley


Status of, and plans for, the renewal of the State Museum. Construction of a new research/collections facility for State Archives, State Library and State Museum


January 30, 2006


Goals 2, 4, and 5






Issue for Discussion


The Executive budget provides authorization to allocate $20 million to the renewal of the exhibits in the State Museum, using the resources of the Library, the Archives and the Museum. It authorizes use of $20 million toward the construction of a research/collection facility. That facility will ensure the security and preservation of the collections.  In addition, the budget establishes a Cultural Education Trust for these funds. It also establishes a Trust Board, advisory to the Regents, to oversee the fund and the plans for the renewed exhibit halls and for the new facility.


Reason(s) for Consideration: Review of Policy


The Museum, Library and Archives have moved forward with plans for new exhibit halls and for a new facility. Now that the Executive budget provides authorization to access the funding essential to the projects, we will accelerate the conceptual planning to move immediately when the budget is passed. The proposed ten-member Trust Board is described in the attached bill language from the Article VII Bill. While this board is modeled, to some extent, on the Archives Partnership Trust Board, the proposal does not establish a separate corporate body but, rather, an advisory board to work with the Regents in achievement of a mutual goal.


Proposed Handling


Issues that require Regents consideration and review:





At the meeting, staff will display and explain the detailed conceptual plan for the new facility and provide the Committee with an overview of the first two planned galleries in the Museum.


Procedural History


At its November 2004 meeting, the Regents approved the feasibility study and conceptual plan for a new research/collection facility and advocacy to attain the resources to move forward.  For several years the Regents and staff have advocated for funding needed to renew the long-term exhibits in the Museum.  


Background Information


The Research/Collection Facility:


The collections of the Museum, Archives and Library are the essential resources of these institutions and the basis of all of their services, research and educational activities. 


The physical constraints of the Cultural Education Center (CEC) prevent collections from being adequately preserved and protected.  Furthermore, storage facilities there do not have sufficient or appropriate space for collections growth.  The Museum is now forced to store significant collections in a remote storage facility with poor environmental controls.  The New York State Records Center has been in a critical situation for some time, with record storage at 105%; a state of affairs compounded by the recent finding of asbestos contamination in the storage area.


With funding assistance from the Executive, SED has been able to mitigate the collection storage environment in the CEC, but not to professional standards. To achieve those standards in the CEC, including adequate environmental controls (humidity and temperature) and an appropriate fire suppression system, would be prohibitively expensive.  Even if such an investment seemed wise, the collections have outgrown available space and another facility would be necessary to lease or build for additional space.  


The Exhibit Galleries Renewal:


The State Museum’s permanent exhibits were designed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. They neither reflect the research of the past 25 years nor the richness of the remarkable collections of the State Museum. Integration of new technologies and improved techniques for interpreting our natural and cultural histories are needed. In addition, the iconic treasures of the Library and Archives that would allow the visitor to meet directly with some of the great leaders of our state’s and nation’s history, cannot be safely shown as a part of exhibits without substantial environmental and security work.


Museums are education institutions dedicated to providing opportunities for life long learning. Museums should be central to addressing science literacy issues, working with formal education institutions toward closing the gap and serving as a community resource.  This museum, a research institution with remarkable collections in geology, biology and archaeology, has the potential to be a potent tool to excite students about science and to inspire further exploration of the natural world.  Renewal of the State Museum would make that potential a reality.


Finally, preliminary discussions with other museums in New York raise the possibility of ongoing collaborations to better tell the stories of New York’s remarkable history and natural history. A part of the State Museum renewal should result in a moveable feast of traveling and coordinated exhibits across the state.




Staff recommends that the Regents support the Executive budget proposal to establish a Cultural Education Trust, enabling the Office of Cultural Education to move forward on the renewal of the Museum and the construction of a new collections/research facility.


Timetable for Implementation


In 2009, New York will commemorate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the Hudson River. It is our intention to have two core galleries in place by then: one providing a sense of the grand sweep of New York’s human history and its impact on the nation and the world; the second, giving a similar overview of the much longer geologic, flora and fauna history of this region. It will also be possible, if the work moves with dispatch, to have the new research/collection facility in place by then, as well.




   6                                   PART K
   7    Section  1.  The  arts and cultural affairs law is amended by adding a
   8  new title P to read as follows:
   9                                   TITLE P
  11                                 ARTICLE 40
  13  Section 40.01. New York state cultural education trust; creation;  board
  14                  of directors; governance.
  15          40.03. Powers and duties of the board.
  16          40.05. Reports.
  17          40.07. Assistance of other agencies.
  18    § 40.01. New  York  state cultural education trust; creation; board of
  19  directors; governance.  1. The New York state cultural  education  trust
  20  is  hereby  established  under  the  jurisdiction of the state education
  21  department.
  22    2. Powers and duties of the trust shall  be  exercised  by  the  trust
  23  board  consisting  of  ten  members  appointed  as follows: five members
  24  appointed by the governor, two of  whom  shall  be  from  the  arts  and
                                         166                        12272-01-6
   1  cultural affairs community, one member appointed by the temporary presi-
   2  dent of the senate, one member appointed by the speaker of the assembly,
   3  one  member  appointed  by the minority leader of the senate, one member
   4  appointed  by  the  minority  leader  of  the  assembly,  and one member
   5  appointed by the board of regents.
   6    3. The first chair of the board shall be designated  by  the  governor
   7  for  three years. Thereafter, the trust board shall elect its own chair,
   8  each for three years.
   9    4. Initial appointments to the board shall  be  for  staggered  terms.
  10  Three  of  the  governor's appointments shall be for three years, two of
  11  the governor's appointments and the appointments of the temporary presi-
  12  dent of the senate and the speaker of the  assembly  shall  be  for  two
  13  years, and the appointments of the minority leader of the senate and the
  14  minority  leader  of  the assembly and the board of regents shall be for
  15  one year. All subsequent appointments shall be for three years.
  16    5. Members may be reappointed  and  may  serve  two  consecutive  full
  17  terms,  in  addition  to  the terms of the initial appointments, but not
  18  more than eight consecutive years. Each member shall continue in  office
  19  until  such  member's  successor  has been appointed and qualifies. Such
  20  continuation in office shall not be counted  in  determining  whether  a
  21  member  has  served  eight  consecutive years. In the event of a vacancy
  22  occurring in the office of any member, other than by the expiration of a
  23  member's term, such vacancy shall be filled for the balance of the unex-
  24  pired term, if applicable, in the same manner as the  original  appoint-
  25  ment.
  26    6.  Board  members  shall  serve  without compensation for their work.
  27  Travel and meeting expenses may be compensated for members of the board.
                                         167                        12272-01-6
   1    7. The deputy commissioner  for  cultural  education  and  the  deputy
   2  commissioner  for operations and management services of the state educa-
   3  tion department shall serve as  the  executive  officers  of  the  trust
   4  board.
   5    8.  A  majority  of  the  whole number of members then in office shall
   6  constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business or the  exercise
   7  of any power of the trust board. The trust board shall have the power to
   8  act by a majority of members present at any meeting at which a quorum is
   9  in attendance.
  10    9.  Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of any general, special
  11  or local law, ordinance, resolution or charter, no  officer,  member  or
  12  employee  of  the  state,  or  of  any public corporation, shall have to
  13  forfeit his or her office or employment or any benefits  provided  under
  14  the  retirement  and  social security law or under any public retirement
  15  system maintained by the state or any of its subdivisions by  reason  of
  16  his  or her becoming a member or chair of the trust board, nor shall the
  17  service on such board be deemed incompatible or in  conflict  with  such
  18  office or employment.
  19    § 40.03. Powers and duties of the board. The board shall:
  20    1.  Promote the public missions, operations, purposes and functions of
  21  the state museum, library and archives;
  22    2.  Promote  greater  public  awareness,  and  accessibility  to,  the
  23  collections of the state museum, library and archives;
  24    3.  Provide  the commissioner of education and the regents with recom-
  25  mendations to direct the investment  of  funds  to  enhance  the  public
  26  display of the collections and exhibits of the state museum, library and
  27  archives and to provide a new storage facility for such collections. The
                                         168                        12272-01-6
   1  board shall ensure that such funds are used in the most efficient manner
   2  to discharge the trust's duties; and
   3    4.  Prepare, and recommend to the commissioner of education, a plan to
   4  enhance the exhibits of the state museum to ensure that the visitors  to
   5  the  museum  have an appreciation for the rich history of New York state
   6  as told through the display of rare, historic and meaningful  artifacts,
   7  specimens  and  documents in the state's possession, and through the use
   8  of interactive technology.
   9    § 40.05. Reports.   Not later than February first  of  each  year  the
  10  board  shall  report to the regents, the governor and the legislature on
  11  the trust's priorities, accomplishments and finances.
  12    § 40.07. Assistance of other agencies.   The trust board  may  request
  13  and  shall receive from any state agency or political subdivision of the
  14  state, and the same are  authorized  to  provide,  such  assistance  and
  15  information  as  will enable it to carry out its duties pursuant to this
  16  title.
  17    § 2. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 99-o  to
  18  read as follows:
  19    §  99-o.  Cultural  education trust account. 1. There is hereby estab-
  20  lished in the joint custody of the state comptroller and the commission-
  21  er of taxation and finance  an  account  of  the  miscellaneous  capital
  22  projects fund to be known as the cultural education trust account.
  23    2.  Notwithstanding any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary,
  24  the comptroller is authorized and directed to receive for deposit to the
  25  credit of the cultural education  trust  account  transfers  from  other
  26  state  funds  and  accounts pursuant to law as well as revenue resulting
  27  from fees and/or donations which may include any form of  equity,  fixed
                                         169                        12272-01-6
   1  income  securities,  insurance or any other asset convertible into cash,
   2  and earnings thereon.
   3    3. Moneys of the cultural education trust account, following appropri-
   4  ation  by  the  legislature,  shall  be available to support the capital
   5  improvement projects consistent with the provisions of title  P  of  the
   6  arts  and  cultural  affairs  law. Expenditures of this account shall be
   7  made in accordance with a plan approved by the director of  the  budget.
   8  Any  such  moneys  in  such  account may, in the discretion of the comp-
   9  troller, be invested in obligations in which the comptroller is  author-
  10  ized  to  invest pursuant to section ninety-eight-a of this article. Any
  11  income or interest from  such  investment  shall  be  credited  to  such
  12  account.
  13    4.  All payments of moneys from the account shall be made on the audit
  14  and warrant of the comptroller.
  15    § 3. This act shall take effect April 1, 2006 and appointments to  the
  16  New  York  state  cultural  education  trust shall be made no later than
  17  three months following an appropriation made by the legislature for  the
  18  purpose of the trust.