• The Obvious/Illusive is the Real Deal at the MPMA

    OK, so this is it - my very favorite PACIN Article ever!
    I am not entirely sure what that says about me as an individual but as a result I feel inclined to subject you to a brief (in Ashley terms) intro which you may find is nowhere near brief enough to suit your tastes. Oh well...

    The Story-
    On the way to the PACIN booth located in the AAM Museum Expo in LA this year, while generally scoping things out - getting the lay of the land (or rippley temporary carpet to be more accurate) I did spy one of the many regional Museum Association booths directly across from our very own PACIN booth.

    Upon first glance the MPMA (Mountain Plains Museum Association) booth was non-descript in the way of many other non-profits present there, but as I approached the booth and started talking to the unassuming gentleman seated there I realized that I have stumbled across something truly extraordinary.

    It turns out I am talking to none other than Mark Janzen, Registrar/Collection Manager from the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, KS provider of many insightful postings over the years on at least two listservs. It was nice to get to meet someone in person who you appreciate from their contributions to the general pool of knowledge in the field.
    As cool as this first discovery was though, what was truly extraordinary was what he (and the signage) had to tell me immediately afterward.
    What would that be? Just hold on I’m getting there.

    First I have to ask you how many times in this profession do we find ourselves saying “somebody really ought to…..(fill in the blank here)”. Usually discussions that start out this way are followed by the unstated realization that yes we all know that it would be great if it happened but it -whatever it was- basically had a snowballs chance.
    In other words - everyone talks about it, often means - never gonna happen.

    Right about now some of you are saying “You’re kidding, are they the ones who finally put on the Art Handlers Olympics? I thought that was somewhere back East.”

    No in fact this is actually even better than that momentus event - really.
    How could that possibly be you ask? Well let me tell you...

    What if your institution could buy a 40" x 25' roll of Melinex (Mylar) for $24 when it normally sells for $69? How about buying a few 3" textile storage tubes for $15 each instead of the normal price of $21?
    I am not even going to mention prices on tissue.
    Do you think that your department/institution could find something to do with that extra money?
    What if there were 34 materials listed including items like blueboard, Tyvek, and Coroplast that could be had at a discounted price?

    Here is the crux of the situation - how many times have you heard something like “What if we all got together and bought our expensive archival materials together?
    Discussions about the obvious potential virtues of museum materials purchasing cooperatives have always been about as common as Toyotas are on the highway.

    On the other hand, the reality of this kind of notion has proven to be about as realistic an expectation as stumbling across as a unicorn step team.
    So yes it's true, walking into the Museum Expo this year I had a genuine Unicorn sighting (with a metaphorically based follow-up email as verification).

    Now that this intro is actually longer than the article itself I suppose I can let you in on something amazing - the opportunity to join an already functional materials coop – a proven success having operated in the real world (my way of describing what are sometimes described as “the flyover states”) for years now. Really.

    I love this kind of thing because it illustrates the antidote to the “If it was possible then someone would have done it already” mindset and sums up the alternative attitude of “Well if no one else got it done, I guess they just didn’t try hard enough did they?”

    The accomplishment that follows illustrates this odd way of approaching things (it makes me proud to come from MPMA country). Don’t say I never did anything for you OK? Click some links and check it out ...

    MPMA Purchasing CO-OP

    A program started by the Colorado Wyoming Museums Association (CWAM), the Purchasing CO-OP associated with the Mountain-Plains Museums Association has become a leading shopping destination for collections-care products for its member museums since the 1990s.

    Our programs goal simply put is to help institutions save money.
    We do this by providing collections managers, registrars curators and directors a quick and easy way to find and purchase archival products and more from reputable conservation-oriented businesses. The CO-OP is open to all institutional members of MPMA as one of the benefits of membership. Museums funded by state or federal monies, and that order through a bid process can also use the CO-OP. We can show you had to do that.

    MPMA’s Purchasing CO-OP Committee, in partnership with CWAM, serves as the organizing force for the purchasing CO-OP. Its role includes: identifying conservationally sound storage and exhibit materials; negotiating discounts on materials for our institutional members; and providing a list of vetted companies and supplies available. Members order directly from the vendors. Committee members are available to assist with ordering problems or other concerns.

    The Purchasing Co-op has some of the best bargains on conservation supplies, with members saving up to 65% on purchases! For deep discounts on acid-free folders, tissue, boxes, gloves, Tyvek, Melinex, etc., all you have to do is become an MPMA Institutional Member.

    "It's kind of nice because you can sit in your chair, order from MPMA’s list of products and your boss is ecstatic because you saved the museum a load of money,"

    said Jenny Yearous, Curator of Collections Management, State Historical Society of North Dakota. “And shipping is usually free.” Jenny saved thousands of dollars during a recent shelving project:

    Value of items purchased: $4286.55
    Total spent to date: $2095.22
    Total savings $2191.33

    “It is official: I have now saved more than I have spent... the savings have definitely paid for our MPMA membership for the next couple of years. I will definitely use the CO-OP again and will tell my friends about it."

    Through the CO-OP, MPMA offers a simple solution to stretch your budget. All you do is become an institutional member of MPMA, and we'll send you a list of products in the CO-OP as well as the companies plus the special CO-OP code needed to get the deep discounts from each company. You do the ordering and arrange shipping details with the company. For a list of products available through the MPMA Purchasing Co-op, visit http://www.mpma.net/purchasingCO-OP.php.

    Institutional memberships start at just $50.00 and are available to all, not just museums in the Mountain Plains region! Visit the MPMA website at www.mpma.net or call MPMA at 303-979-9358 for details. The membership form is available at: http://www.mpma.net/documents/MPMA_Institutional_Membership_Brochure.pdf

    Jami Tracy Frazier
    This opportunity comes to you courtesy of Jami Tracy Frazier and all of the good folks at the MPMA.