Friday, December 4, 2009

News Article: PHMC Forced to Cut Staff, Historic Sites, Grants Programs

Because of the state legislature’s budget fiasco of this year, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s 2009-2010 budget has been slashed by 43%. The cuts have affected staff, historical sites, and grants programs.

The PHMC has had to furlough 108 employees and eliminate 20 vacant positions. These furloughs affect each of the PHMC’s operations, including the State Museum, State Archives, and historical sites throughout the Commonwealth. Staff in offices that provide professional records management and archival services to other state offices have been reduced. The State Museum and State Library will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays from now on due to staff reductions.

Six of the PHMC’s historical sites will close. In Western PA these include Old Economy Village in Beaver County and the Somerset Historical Center in Somerset County. Five sites will close for the winter, to possibly re-open in the spring. In Western PA this includes the Drake Well Museum in Venango County. PHMC will transfer the operation of six sites to other organizations. In Western PA these include Bushy Run Battlefield in Westmoreland County, the Erie Maritime Museum/Flagship Niagara in Erie, and the Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh.

Several grants programs that benefitted historical societies, museums, and related organizations have been eliminated. Project Grants have been cut out. These include the categories of Archives and Records Management, Historic Preservation, Museum Collections Management and Organizational Development, and Public History Grants. Technical Assistance Grants are eliminated. And the Keystone Historic Preservation Grants Program is cancelled for 2009-2010.

General Operating Support grants for museums and official county historical societies remain intact. The deadline for applying for these grants is January 8, 2010.

For all details about the remaining grants programs, visit the PHMC's web page at

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Events: Heinz History Center Book Fair, Dec. 5

This Saturday, Dec. 5, the Senator John Heinz History Center will hold its Annual History Center Holiday Book Fair. From 10:00AM until 2:00PM local authors from points throughout the region will all be at the History Center for one big book signing party. Again this year they’ll have free coffee & hot chocolate, and live music.

This is the seventh year the History Center has held the Book Fair. It will be my third time there as one of the authors signing books. In my first year, 2004, my daughter attended with me and met Dan Rooney. (I told her she could lord it over the boys in her elementary school class about shaking hands the owner of the Steelers, but she declined to follow up on that.) This year local celebrity authors will include Art Rooney, Jr., Rory McHugh, Jennifer Antkowiak, Dave Crawley, Jim O'Brien, and Eleanor Schano. There will also be some names that fans of local history might know: Brian Butko, Greg Spalding, Arthur Fox, Lisa Spahr, Quentin Skrabec, Autumn Redcross, and Michael Muchnock.

There is no registration to get into the Book Fair, and no fee. Just walk in and meet and talk with over 60 local authors. Check out the History Center’s web page on the event at I hope to see you there!