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Riverfront Museum restructures operations

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A restructuring of operations at the Peoria Riverfront Museum that took effect last week was done so the facility and its staff can best serve their clients, the public, museum CEO Jim Richerson said Tuesday.

The restructuring, which included the elimination of some positions — four gone, two created for a net change of two fewer positions — and the merging of two departments, will improve effectiveness and efficiency while bringing expenses more into line with income, he said.

While acknowledging there are naysayers about the museum and its operations, including its communications with the Peoria County Board, Richerson said the changes were the result of an internal analysis after the Riverfront Museum's first six months in operation as well as surveys from museum guests about their experiences and wishes for the facility.

"Like any business that is six months into operations we looked closely at the time and resources from that period and made what we believe were the appropriate changes. Any problems were looked at and things were realigned to address those and we think the structure we have now will help us better serve the public," Richerson said.

The analysis identified a need to allocate resources differently and more equitable and to rebuild teams so they are more effective and efficient. The changes that resulted are expected to improve efficiency, improve communications and workflow and improve productivity, Richerson told the museum's board.

Among the changes:

Positions that were eliminated were vice president of communications and marketing, visitor services manager, exhibitions technician and curatorial assistant.

New positions are marketing manager, which will report to the vice president of development and marketing, and visitors service senior lead.

The Development and Marketing department have been merged into one department to be overseen by Nikki Cole, vice president of development and marketing.

There also were changes made to the reporting structure; i.e., who reports to whom.

"We are being proactive in other ways, as well, to respond to some of the surveys. For example, we are going to be looking at different pricing structures for the theater, depending on times," Richerson said.

On an overall basis, he said, he is pleased with the museum's first six months of operations. "I will admit I can't wait for Washington Street to be finished. We worked so hard to have the museum fronting Washington Street we want people to be able to use that entrance and to see it. And, of course, the flood didn't help our causes the last few weeks. I just hope the locusts aren't next," he said.

He did praise the city and volunteers who helped keep flood waters at bay and credited the museum designers for making sure it was built high enough that the flood waters didn't reach the building.

"I just wish the naysayers would come down and see what we're doing and talk to our guests. Attendance can always be better, but we're getting there. We're right there with the Caterpillar Visitors Center in attendance to date. People just need to be patient," Richerson said.

One area in which the Riverfront Museum is performing well is in education, he said. He cited a report given him on Tuesday by the museum's education department that showed 25 schools have visited through field trips that never visited Lakeview Museum. "We're seeing schools we're never seen before, some we've never even heard of. They are seeking us out from all over, even from Iowa. Also, we are doing a lot better job of serving the demographics of the community," he said.

Richerson said he believes communications problems with the Peoria County Board are improving. "We are ready to sit with the county and discuss our audit, which was more time consuming than was expected, and discuss our attendance. The meeting we had scheduled for today (Tuesday) was postponed by the county. I hope we can get it rescheduled soon," he said.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).