New Monday Hours!

A blog post by Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

I came back from the AAM conference this year energized and excited about the impact museums can have on the people who visit them. Significantly, all that time with museum professionals meant I was thinking as much about the people who enter museums from the back door every day as those who pass the welcome sign every once in a while. I genuinely believe museum staff change the world every day, and the conference made me want to think more deeply about how we could apply that power to change to our own organization.

The JMM staff is a family. Like all families, we sometimes argue and rub each other the wrong way, but we also work together to do amazing things, and we have each other’s backs. From the day I joined the team, I’ve been gratified by the degree to which everyone’s voice is welcome at the table. Conversations about growth, change, and process happen with everyone present, and even if everyone’s ideas can’t be implemented, they are all heard.

Waterbury Clock Company signboard used by B’nai Israel Congregation. JMM 1993.113.2.

But there has always been an exception. Staff meetings welcome the whole staff, but someone needs to be at the front desk to welcome and assist visitors. There seemed to be no way around it. Staff meetings were for all staff except the one or two who are needed to staff the visitor experience of the front desk and the shop.

In thinking about this obstacle to having all staff at the staff meeting, I had a radical idea. Since we always need someone at the front when we are open to visitors, what if we weren’t open to visitors for one hour a week when we’re all at work? What if we were to adjust our hours and close one hour early or open one hour later one day a week every week? It felt like a simple and yet radical idea.

Pocket watch of Max Heppner’s grandfather, which he passed down to Max, his namesake, c. 1850. JMM 1998.138.1.

When I brought it to Marvin, I expected him to explain to me why we couldn’t do it. To my surprise, he responded we should figure out the hour in the week that would have the smallest effect on our visitors. He didn’t need me to convince him that the benefits of getting the whole staff together outweigh the risk of being closed one fewer hour a week.

Through analysis of visitor and group data, the management team decided Monday morning would provide our hour, and we will launch the new schedule after the Jewish holidays this year. And so, starting on November 4, 2019, JMM will open to the public at 11 AM on Mondays, to allow our staff to gather together, every week, as a complete staff.

Photo of sundial designed by Malcolm Lowenstein, used as model by Reuben Kramer to create a memorial in Cylburn Garden for Malcolm. JMM 1993.73.5.

In preparation for that date, different members of the staff have been working on figuring out all of the places we need to update our hours. Managers and others have started thinking about what trainings and group thinking we can schedule for that time. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what this family can accomplish with the privilege of weekly distraction-free time together. If Monday morning at 10 AM is your favorite time to visit JMM, you have my sincere apology for the inconvenience. I hope you’ll trust me when I say I expect your inconvenience will be well worth the payout. My colleagues are all amazing individually. Together, we are unstoppable.


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