With Dearborn Historical Museum Cuts, Are We Losing Our Heritage?

A Dearborn resident expresses concern over the budget cuts at the museum, and urges caution in selling items or cutting staff.

The deafening lack of public communication about the impending losses at the is causing a great deal of rumor and upset. In the immediate wake of severe job cuts, I understand that some of the Historical Commissioners have been checking out the museum for de-accessioning (selling or otherwise donating or eliminating) some archival or artifact items. It has been written that an all-volunteer staff is being contemplated.

These may be necessary steps for the long-term health of the museum and its mission, but surely there is a more open and more cooperative way of achieving these goals. Qualified professionals, trained curators who know Dearborn such as Kirt Gross–who I understand was recently released–need to be involved in such important decisions as to whether or not to sell or trade our heritage.

Well-intentioned history activists and volunteers are important, but the fate of Dearborn’s historical archives rely on the coming together of both professionals and citizen volunteers to preserve, promote and present our city’s historical heritage.

It would be reassuring to know that there are written guidelines about what to sell or reassign, and that these guidelines are agreed to and overseen by those most qualified to do so. Let’s not lay off qualified staff only to hire consultants. There can be no real savings in that, only irreparable harm.

Losing Dearborn’s history, whether by selling it off or allowing unsupervised access to its treasures, would leave a void for our children and grandchildren that could never be replaced.

I hope every resident who reads this letter will communicate their thoughts to the mayor, City Council and Historical Commissioners. They need to know that we are watching and we care.

Betsy Cushman
Dearborn resident


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