Virginia Association of Museums
3126 W. Cary Street, #447
Richmond VA 23221
Mission Statement The mission of the Virginia Association of Museums is to serve as the resource network of the Virginia and District of Columbia museum community through education, technical assistance, and advocacy.
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Jennifer Ley Thomas
Board Chair Mr. Gary Sandling
Board Chair Company Affiliation Monticello
Contact Information
Address 3126 W. Cary Street, #447
Richmond, VA 23221
Telephone 804 358-3170
Fax 804 358-3174
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1969
Former Names
Virginia History and Museums Federation1978
Virginia History Federation1968
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $316,950.00
Projected Expenses $319,233.00
Mission The mission of the Virginia Association of Museums is to serve as the resource network of the Virginia and District of Columbia museum community through education, technical assistance, and advocacy.
Impact VAM is a membership organization for museums and museum staff, but it does not require membership for services or to participate in programs.Currently, we have a total of 5,874 participants listed: 3,357 who were members at the time they participated, and 2,517 who were non-members. These numbers represent 590 museums. Our top training programs include: Workshop Series, Annual Conference, Museum Fundamentals Forum, Connecting to Collections, and Conservation Workshop Series.  Other services include Emergency Response Task Force, Technical Assistance, Certificate in Museum Management, Virginia TimeTravelers, Collections in Action, Museum Mentors, and international professional exchange. Goals for the coming year include maintaining core training programs, upgrading our association management software/website, and expanding our emergency response network.
Needs 1. Circuit Rider program:  provides pro bono collections assessment by a curator and an archivist to small museums, resulting in a report that can be used to generate support from board and funders to meet professional standards.  2. Funds to support training programs in basic operational training, hands-on workshops, capacity building and grant writing, conservation and collections management, and disaster planning for museums; 3. Technology at the office including updated hardware, software, and tools to produce and share training videos that can be viewed across the Commonwealth; 4. Staff to expand offerings and services in support of Virginia’s museums.  5. Support for our pro bono technical assistance program to provide mileage and travel expenses for volunteer museum professionals who assist colleagues with urgent challenges.
Background Since the late 1950s Virginia’s museum professionals have been getting together to share expertise, exchange exhibits, and collaborate on programs. As the group grew, it expanded its activities to include an annual conference, a collaborative Civil War Centennial Celebration, a magazine and additional meetings during the year for training and networking. The organization was incorporated in 1968 as The Virginia History Federation to promote and support Virginia’s historical museums and sites; one year later it was granted 501c(3) status by the IRS. In 1978, the organization became the Virginia History and Museums Federation to reflect a broader mission including all museum disciplines. In 1980 the organization was renamed the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) to further establish its purpose – the education and support of all museums, related cultural institutions, and those staff and volunteers dedicated to Virginia’s museums.
CEO Statement I think reliance on membership dues from the non-profit community to support our operating budget is a fundamental challenge. When you think about it, we are asking members of one of the lower paid  yet most highly educated group of professionals and their non-profit employers to support our operating budget. Even in the best of times, museums are not generally considered a place to find money. The arts in general share this peculiar trait of trying to get money from people and institutions who overall don’t have much. The fact that we are so successful speaks volumes about the quality of programs VAM has offered and about the need the profession has for training and support services.
Board Chair Statement A major challenge is ensuring that we are providing enough and the most appropriate opportunities for educating and training Virginia’s museum employees.  From the Circuit Rider Program, to Fundamental Forum, to workshop series, to conferences-it is critical that we meet the needs of Virginia’s museums. Today in the museum community, there is one person where there were three a few years ago.  Yet our standards don’t change so our workforce must be better trained and have better tools to assist them than in the past. This is true across the Commonwealth and within our VAM office.

Museums attract people who want to make a difference in their communities, who want to marry their personal values and passion with the needs of the area. Museums are not something you go into for money but rather for love.  I left the very high paying public education profession as a classroom teacher because I wanted to influence more than the students I could teach in one day. I wanted to excite them with new tools-I saw too many glazed eyes in school. When I first joined a museum, I had a double major, a masters degree,  teaching certification and classroom teaching experience.  What I needed was not only vision which I found as I listened to keynote speakers at a VAM conference but also the tools that could make the vision a reality.  Both were available through VAM.  The combination of providing vision and tools is exemplary of an institution that can make a difference and when coupled with a statewide mission, the dedication of our staff and constituents , and the needs of our communities, we have the chance to change Virginia for the better. Museums reach millions each year in Virginia and generate millions of dollars in tourism.  VAM is the crucible in which this fire is lit.

Areas of Service
Areas Served
VAM represents museums and museum staff and volunteers thoughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Gary Sandling
Company Affiliation Monticello
Term Mar 2016 to Mar 2018
Board of Directors
Board Members
Mr. Jeffrey Allison Virginia Musuem of Fine Arts
Mr. Eric App Museum of the Confederacy
Ms. Paige Backus Prince William Historic Preservation Division
Steven Blashfield Glave & Holmes Architecture
Mr. Jamie Bosket Mount Vernon
Dr. Mikell Brown John Tyler Community College
Ms. Gretchen Bulova Gadsby's Tavern
Ms. Karen Daly Dumbarton House
Ms. Tracy Gillespie Aldie Mill Historic Site
Mr. Charles Grant Henricus Foundation
Mr. Joe Keiper Virginia Museum of Natural History
Ms. Susan Leidy Chrysler Museum of Art
Ms. Lisa Martin Reynolds Homestead
Mr. Jeffrey Nichols Poplar Forest
Mr. Robert Orrison Prince William County Historic Sites
Ms. Dana Puga Library of Virginia
Mr. Gary Sandling Monticello
Mr. Scott Stroh Gunston Hall
Ms. Vanessa Thaxton-Ward Hampton Universty Museum
Robin Von Seldeneck Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library
Ms. Sarah Whiting St. John's Church Foundation
Ms. Charlotte Whitted Historic Crab Orchard Museum
Mr. Eric Wilson Rockbridge Historical Society
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 22
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 11
Female 12
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 80
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 25
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Program / Program Planning
Institutional Advancement
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
A major challenge is ensuring that we are providing enough and the most appropriate opportunities for educating and training Virginia’s museum employees.  From the circuit rider program, to fundamental forum, to workshop series, to conference-it is critical that we meet the needs of Virginia’s museums. Today in the museum community, there is one person where there were three a few years ago-yet our standards don’t change so our workforce must be better trained and have better tools to assist them than in the past. This is true across the Commonwealth and within our VAM office.
Executive Director
Executive Director Ms. Jennifer Ley Thomas
Deputy Director, Virginia Association of Museums
Director of Public Programs, Valentine Richmond History Center
Executive Director, Saratoga County Historical Society
Former CEOs
Ms. Margo Carlock Feb - Apr 2013
Ms. Judy Harris Jan 1991 - June 1993
Full Time Staff 2
Part Time Staff 1
Volunteers 1
Contractors 2
Retention Rate 100
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Date Strategic Plan Adopted July 2012
Management Succession Plan? Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
John Tyler Community College
Virginia Conservation Association
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Virginia Library Association
Preservation Virginia
Service to the Museum ProfessionSoutheastern Museums Conference2002
Description Our conference is held in March every year, and provides an opportunity for museum staff to come together for educational sessions, networking events, and career-building experiences. Our exhibit resource hall of 45-50 vendors is one of the largest among state and regional museum associations, representing museum products and services ranging from architectural firms to insurance companies and exhibit designers to food service providers. Conference speakers and participants come from museums of all sizes and disciplines, and include every experience level from museum studies graduate students to executive directors of Virginia’s largest museums. The conference is held in various areas of the state, allowing us the added benefit of experiencing the excitement and energy of local museums and historic sites in every locale.

The programs and events for the Annual Conference are determined by member-driven committees each year; these committees form in April, and all members are welcome to participate. Requests for Program Proposals are distributed in June of each year, to solicit the best in new trends, scholarship, programming, and leadership for our educational sessions. 

Budget $50,000.00
Our annual workshop series consists of 6-10 full-day workshops in various aspects of museum operations: administraton, exhibits, interpretation, collections management, technology, volunteers, development, education, conservation, etc.  Our FY 2011 schedule is:
November 5, 2010
Collections Storage on a Budget
Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society
December 13, 2010
Maymont Foundation
January 24, 2011
The ABCs of Planning a Successful Event
The Suffolk Museum
April 7, 2011
To Create or Host a Travelling Exhibition
Daura Gallery, Lynchburg College
May 9, 2011
Developing Teacher Institutes
U.S. Army Women’s Museum
June 6, 2011 HALF_DAY
Collecting Modern Materials
Library of Congress, Culpeper
July 2011
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Conservation Labs
Budget $5,000.00
The Forum is a "boot camp" for museum staff and volunteers, and covers all of the basic aspects of museum operations in a three-day timeframe. 
Budget $12,000.00
TimeTravelers is a passport program which encourages children and families to visit museums.  The goal is to foster life-long learning and an appreciation for our historic and cultural heritage.
Budget $60,000.00
Our services to museums include the emergency response task force (a network of local museum emergency support teams together with a statewide rapid response team), technical assistance (pro bono help with various challenges by a museum professional), Museum Mentors (individual training and pairing with a museum professional), and Collections in Action (curatorial assistance).
Budget $3,000.00
CEO/ED/Board Comments
Over the years, VAM has developed and put into place a wide variety of programs and services designed to address specific, identified needs in the museum community.  While the services we offer have grown significantly, revenues from dues, program income, and grants have not.  Budget cuts necessitated trimming staff, leaving the remaining two full-time staff members hard-pressed to maintain the level of service Virginia museums have come to rely upon.  Another challenge - and opportunity - lies in the increasing difficulty for museum staff to attend training programs due to time and budget constraints.  One of our goals is to develop distance learning capabilities so that we might bring this training to museums throughout the Commonwealth at a low cost.
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $316,950.00
Projected Expenses $319,233.00
Spending Policy N/A
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$76,175$65,918$60,738
Individual Contributions$6,869$8,542$8,211
Investment Income, Net of Losses$10,658$983$5,609
Membership Dues$77,541$62,025$0
Special Events----$0
Revenue In-Kind----$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$271,020$245,051$208,659
Administration Expense$67,115$59,293$57,388
Fundraising Expense$6,773$6,223$1,421
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.101.011.11
Program Expense/Total Expenses79%79%78%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue8%8%2%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$219,671$209,689$203,805
Current Assets$73,686$64,076$57,598
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$1,013$424$258
Total Net Assets$218,658$209,265$203,547
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities72.74151.12223.25
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 11/2016View
Organization Comments Although we do not have an endowment, we do have an operating reserve and an investment account.  These "savings" accounts were built over the years through prudent financial management, and provided a vital cushion when VAM went through a challenging year last year.  As with unfortunately too many nonprofits, we suffered an embezzlement by a trusted employee of over seven years.  Our reserves allowed us to survive this without decreasing services to members but it did present a setback.  It is our goal to build these reserves back and to some day convert the investment account to a true endowment.
Foundation Comments
  • Financial information provided from Form 990 with supplemental information from the financial review
  • Form 990 and financial review prepared by Steve Walls & Associates, PLLC