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  • 1.  Phone Systems

    Posted 01-23-2018 08:37 AM
    I am curious what other museums use for a phone system.  We have 4 buildings - museum, art center, business office and artist residence.  We need some sort of analog system for the elevators, some sort of phone system for operations and then we're also hearing comments about staff utilizing their cell phones...any thoughts or suggestions?

    Sheila McNeil
    Currier Museum of Art
    Manchester NH
    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more

  • 2.  RE: Phone Systems

    Posted 01-24-2018 04:03 PM
    Hi Sheila,

    It sounds like an IP PBX could work well for your needs. These systems are relatively easy to manage and fairly flexible. Depending on how it's configured, someone working in your art center could unplug their phone, walk over to the business office, plug it in and be up and running right away. These systems also offer a rangeof mobility features so that staff could "twin" their desk phone with their cell phone and work remotely.

    Cisco is one of the leading providers in this area; while their technology is excellent they are also among the most expensive, but they are worth considering. Other manufacturers include Mitel and Avaya. You can choose between purchasing the equipment + a service plan from a reseller, or some phone service providers will lease you a cloud-based system if that's better for your needs. (When I last evaluated cloud-based systems I found their monthly pricing to be expensive, and the options we looked at charged fees for things as simple as changing a name on one of the phones. To avoid the impact on your operating budget you might choose to purchase.) I highly recommend taking the time to demo several systems to get an idea of the available features; invite staff members from across the organization and get feedback after each demo. 

    You are correct that the elevators will require analog ("POTS") lines. I can tell you that at least in DC those are configured completely independently of your main phone system. 

    Here are some articles you might find helpful:

    Unified Communications Options for Nonprofits

    Phone Systems on a Shoestring Budget

    Phone Service over the Internet

    Thinking About a New Phone System?

    Gordon Umbarger
    Director of Operations
    National Museum of Women in the Arts
    Washington DC

    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more

  • 3.  RE: Phone Systems

    Posted 01-25-2018 03:31 PM

    I second Gordon's suggestion.

    Middlebury College recently switched the entire organization over to a Cisco VoIP system. While I was not part of the cost discussion, I do know that Cisco was competitive in its pricing structure with other vendors offering similar products. And I like Cisco's Jabber software client. It allows my office phone to ring in my office, on my laptop, on my tablet, and on my smartphone simultaneously, so I can pick up calls wherever I am, and if I'm in the office and need to head out I can have the call jump to my smartphone. It also includes organization-wide chat, messaging, and video conferencing features which make it easier to collaborate with colleagues without having to be in the same space for a meeting.

    As for analog, in addition to the elevators, I imagine any security or fire alarm functions will also want to be analog.


    Douglas Perkins
    Operations Manager
    Middlebury College Museum of Art
    Middlebury, VT

    AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, Baltimore, May 16-19, 2024, click to learn more