Salem Check-Up Initiative

As part of our Salem Check-Up Initiative, we are continuing the pursuit of transparent communications and updates regarding Old Salem Museums and Gardens operations and financial position. Every era of Old Salem leadership has been one of growth, refinement, and self-reflection.  Given the scope of Old Salem’s mission and desired experience, the operations of the organization need constant review and reconsideration.  

Building on the foundation of previous management administrations, Old Salem is now completing a three-year check-up, whose purpose is to better define the financial and endowment positions, the staffing size, programmatic scope, and community engagement.  All of these efforts have produced a strong, focused, and clear future trajectory. A bottom-up strategic planning process has begun with the goal of concentrating on mission-centric programs and research. The strategic plans are also targeting community-based partnerships which will expand Old Salem’s footprint beyond the historic district.

All of these building blocks are resulting in a stronger, more sustainable, and more exciting heritage site.

2021 Old Salem Museums and Gardens President’s Updates

2020 Old Salem Museums and Gardens President’s Updates

Coverage in American Alliance of Museums
November 9, 2020
Coverage in American Alliance of Museums
February 10, 2020

2019 Old Salem Museums and Gardens President’s Updates

2018 Old Salem Museums and Gardens President’s Updates

Significant efforts have been made toward realizing this goal:


  1. Completed a 3-year financial plan resulting in a strong, sustainable organizational structure.
  2. Capped restricted endowment draws at 5% or below.
  3. Balanced 2018 budget.
  4. Adjusted staff size and operations adjusted to reasonable expectations of endowment draws and fundraising.
  5. 2007 staff:  200 FT/PT. 2018 staff:  170 FT/PT.
  6. Completed an organizational-wide program analysis resulting in a reduction of money-losing events.
  7. Re-structured the organizational decision-making process with the introduction of a:
    1. National Advisory Committee
    2. Moravian Advisory Committee
    3. Staff Advisory Committee
    4. Old Salem Historic District Residents Advisory Committee
  8. Established a distinct Human Resources Department with a concentration on inclusion and diversity.
  9. Completed Phase I consolidation of divisions within the organization.
  10. Introduced publication of Quarterly Updates from the President & CEO’s office.
  11. Established 5-year strategic plans for selected divisions (Horticulture, Archaeology, Music, Research: Hidden Town).
  12. Established a MESDA maintenance fund for upkeep of the museum structure.


  1. Restructured the visitor experience toward immersive, hands-on, tactile environments.
  2. Introduced the HIDDEN TOWN Project.
  3. Introduced the ACCESS SALEM Program (visitor map, tactile boxes/bags throughout the district, ADA compliant ramps.
  4. Began working toward the establishment of a fully public-facing Archaeology program.
  5. Completed re-invention of visitor wayfinding through
    1. new district map
    2. historically-based street signs (approved by the HRC)
  6. Established the ACTIVATE MAIN STREET Program with moves of craftsman studios to independent, self-contained interpretive spaces.
  7. Created new mission-centric regular hands-on events throughout the district.
  8. Expanded social media communications strategy.
  9. Re-considered the Old Salem website in ways that will make it more user-friendly and compatible with the MESDA website.
  10. Sold out Old Salem’s 2017 Christmas & Halloween tours with waiting lists.
  11. Opened two new interpreted locations: Boys’ School and the Doctor’s House.
  12. Opened new decorative arts galleries in the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts