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With the advisory committee's work finished, the commitment of the board on record, and the staff reorganization accomplished, Debs and her staff pressed ahead with the bridge plan. In May, a new vice president for finance and admin­istration was hired to oversee the personnel, security, and maintenance depart­ments as well as to coordinate financial reporting systems and overall adherence to budgets. Work progressed on a ten-year museum conservation, rehousing, and storage plan; a building master plan; and the beginnings of a library preser­vation plan. On the fundraising side, the Society's staff submitted a major pro­posal to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a $1 million challenge grant (to be matched on a four-to-one basis), began aggressively to pursue public support from both the city and the state in the form of line-item funding and a bond act, and received the first significant contribution toward the bridge plan by securing a $1 million three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (to be matched two to one).

As has been mentioned, the Society had established the preservation and con­servation of its collections as its highest priority. The second priority was to more than double the number of public programs. With these two areas of initiative emphasized, management was aware that it could not continue to mount a reg­ular program of rotating exhibitions. In fact, it was decided that aside from a small number of permanent exhibitions designed to feature the Society's new integrated approach to displaying its varied collections, the exhibition program would be postponed for three years.

Given that postponement, it seemed a stroke of great fortune when the Society discovered that the Jewish Museum was looking for exhibition space to maintain a public presence while it expanded and renovated its building. For the Society, such a novel arrangement represented an opportunity to increase its at­tendance, introduce a new clientele to its collections, and take a symbolic step toward greater inclusiveness. The Society's administrative offices and perma­nent exhibitions were going to be open anyway, so the Society's leadership did not anticipate incurring significant additional expenses as a result of the arrangement. Furthermore, the Society assumed that the Jewish Museum collaboration would attract thousands of additional visitors, making it possible to cover any additional marginal costs with voluntary admissions contributions and visitor-related earned income. In June 1989, the Society entered into an agreement to provide space for the Jewish Museum for two years, from January 1991 until December 1992.

Maintaining its positive momentum, the Society's leadership took steps to strengthen its board. In September 1989, a new class of trustees was elected that included some very highly regarded members. The new trustees were Marian Castell, founder of the Bank of Darien, in Connecticut; Joe Flom, a partner in the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher&Flom; Richard Jenrette, chairman of the Equitable Life Assurance Society; Pat Klingenstein, a member of the New York State Museum in Albany; John Macomber, former chairman and CEO of the Celanese Corporation and chairman of the advisory committee; Ronald Perelman, chairman and CEO of Revlon, Inc.; John Reed, chairman and CEO of Citicorp and Citibank; Linda Gosden Robinson, president of the communica­tions firm Robinson, Lake, Lerer&Montgomery; Jack Sheinkman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union; and Michael von Clemm, chairman of Merrill Lynch Capital Markets.

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Source:  OpenStax, The new-york historical society: lessons from one nonprofit's long struggle for survival. OpenStax CNX. Mar 28, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10518/1.1
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