S: Sandoway House Nature Center, Delray Beach, Florida
BC: Appendix Glaser, J.R., & Zenetou, A.A. (1996). Museums: A place to work, planning museum careers. New York, Routledge. Palm Beach County Cultural Council. "Sandoway House Nature Center" brochure. www.sandowayhouse.org Schlatter, N.E. (2008). Museum careers: A practical guide for students and novices. Walnut Creek, CA: Leftcoast Press.
FC: Open Tues.-Sat., 10am-4pm, Sun., noon-4pm | The Sandoway House Nature Center in Delray Beach, FL, is a small city-run museum that offers visitors a glimpse into South Florida’s fragile marine and freshwater environments. The museum is housed along busy Route AIA, a shell’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean. Large banners and signs in front of the museum bring visitors in. This is the work of the exhibit manager, fabricator, and marketing department. | The Sandoway House Nature Center Delray Beach, Florida presented by Cathy Grubman | Exhibits and Marketing
1: The museum is actually a converted beach home, circa 1936, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Grounds display the original flora and fauna of that time period, as well as butterfly habitats and rain gardens. Facility managers and gardeners maintain these areas. The museum opened in 1998--the community rallied to make it happen to keep condo developers at bay. Buy-a-brick pathways and Friends Groups' signage indicate fundraising and volunteer efforts. "Working side by side, museum staff and volunteers influence future generations by contributing time and talents to an important and vital cultural institution in the community" (Glaser and Zenetou, 1996, p. 149). | The home’s original porch serves as the entry/lobby area for the museum. Visitors can see Florida sea life and native animals upclose. Live turtles are there for petting; a Macaw greets the guests. Animal caregivers and exhibitors are at work here. | Volunteering | Facility Maintenance
2: Inside the building, the registration area is at the same counter that serves the gift shop. "The museum store manager is often part of the museum's marketing department, visitor services, or general administration," writes Elizabeth Schlatter (2008, p.91). | The next part of the museum includes two “discovery” rooms. The discovery rooms are designed for children and are filled with educational items, teaching aids, tables and chairs, TVs and players. Teachers and educators use these rooms for classes and keep the items organized and updated. Also, curators and registrars may provide services here. | Admission: $4; kids under 2, free | Visitor Services | Education
3: But the outdoor “Shark Reef” is definitely the main attraction at Sandoway House. Every day at 10:30am, a volunteer docent feeds the sharks and gives a enlightening presentation to the audience. In addition to the lesson, keeping proper oxygen levels, cleaning the tanks, and caring for the animals are priorities for the zoologists who work here. | Animal Caregiving
4: Upstairs in the main house is an outdoor observatory, which allows visitors to look out to the beach. Migrating sharks appear along the Florida Coast, and telescopes are available in the next room to watch this and other wildlife occurrences. Special events are conducted here by educators which "expands the museum's educational mission by creating opportunities for informal learning" (Schlatter, 2008, p. 80). | An area devoted to turtle habitats and their migration, environmental issues, and Florida coastal history are also in the room. Kids are drawn to the giant turtle. | Development/Education
5: Across the hall from the observatory is the Shell Gallery. Featuring the collection of Ann and Albert Becker, this gallery includes exotic shells from around the world. More than 10,000 shells are meticulously cataloged and a wonderful library is available. Curators, registrars, exhibitors, and librarians manage this and the other exhibits. | Curating and Library Sciences
6: There are many places at the Sandoway House where the work of the museum professionals is obvious. But, upon my exit, I found out the truth: all that work was mostly done by two people! The paid staff comprises an office manager (who takes care of membership, donations, booking tours, invoices and bills, facility rentals, and grants) and a museum director, who happened to be the young man I met when I first arrived. His name is Patrick Moorhouse. He not only runs the gift shop, but oversees all the animal care, maintains the tanks, manages the building and grounds, teaches classes, and conducts tours. His curatorial duties include overseeing the collections and booking monthly exhibits--he does that through a local company called Jurassic Parts. A group of volunteers also help out, whom he supervises. One part-time employee works on weekends. | Administration | Volunteer Docents | Exhibit Design
7: Patrick, 24, has two college degrees: in biology and ethnology. While he was a student, he worked at the Sandoway House as a volunteer and summer camp counselor. Before this job, he worked as a zookeeper at the Palm Beach Zoo. According to Elizabeth Schlatter, his job is typical for a small museum. She writes that museum directors at large museums can make six figures a year, but smaller ones are more in the $50K range; Patrick is paid $30,000. The yearly operating cost of the Sandoway House is $120,000. Operating funds come from admission fees, gift shop sales, memberships, and donations. State and local funds are also provided; the site is sponsored by Palm Beach County, the City of Delray Beach, and the Florida Department of State. A Board of Directors of 13 people make decisions, as well as volunteer and raise money through an annual gala each February. Patrick reports directly to the Board but must also work with city administrators. Patrick said budgets are tight, but the worst year the Sandoway House ever had was in 2005—Hurricane Katrina killed most all of the fish (no electricity in the tanks), and the grounds and building were severely damaged. He and his co-workers report that they weathered that storm and "are prepared for the next big one." | Museum Director | Sandoway House: Small staff, big mission!