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  • 1.  Policy and signage for people who are loitering inside the museum

    Posted 5 days ago

    We are a small, free, city-operated museum, and we have had an issue with people coming in and hanging out for hours in our lobby to beat the heat. They often have a lot of baggage and look like they are camping out. One even tries to sleep. We have told her she cannot sleep in the lobby, but we are struggling with how to address the loitering. They do not utilize the museum's services at all except the public restroom. We do have a policy to address disruptive visitors, but not for those just loitering. Upper management would like us to come up with a policy and signage that they can then approve to address the situation.

     

    We have had a similar issue with people sleeping on our back loading dock. We were told to put up a "No Loitering" sign in order to have the police do something about that. I hesitate to put such an unwelcoming sign in the lobby for our visitors to see. Does anyone have a policy they would like to share? What do you think about a sign that reads "Museum Lobby for Patrons and Customers Only"?

     

    Susan Hawksworth, Museum Director

    Smoky Hill Museum

    Department of the Salina Arts and Humanities

    Salina KS



  • 2.  RE: Policy and signage for people who are loitering inside the museum

    Posted 5 days ago
    I've seen libraries address homelessness in different ways. Perhaps your local library has a policy for managing this issue and could advise you? 


    DIANE GUTENKAUF
    Senior Assistant Director, Operations & Strategy
     
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    College of Fine and Applied Arts
    Krannert Art Museum
    500 East Peabody Drive | M/C 592
    Champaign, IL 61820
    217-333-3437 | dianeg3@illinois.edu
    kam.illinois.edu
     


    Under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act any written communication to or from university employees regarding university business is a public record and may be subject to public disclosure. 





  • 3.  RE: Policy and signage for people who are loitering inside the museum

    Posted 4 days ago

    Hi Susan,

    That's a challenging issue! Given that it's a public museum, I wonder if the lobby should be viewed as an area for respite (especially given recent heat waves). I liked Diane's comment about how some libraries address homelessness. Here in Minneapolis, MN our public library offers services. Here is a link to a newsstory about their efforts. I wonder if you could find local organizations you could redirect people to that could fulfill their needs to sleep. My approach would be to focus on a compassionate way for staff to engage with people who hang around the lobby rather than put up signs. But I do empathize with how complex of an issue it is. 



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    Angelica Maier
    Curator of 3D Objects
    Minnesota Historical Society
    Saint Paul MN
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  • 4.  RE: Policy and signage for people who are loitering inside the museum

    Posted 4 days ago

    I read a long time ago of a guy that did this in places waiting to be kicked out so he could sue them, so be very cautious how you ho about it.






  • 5.  RE: Policy and signage for people who are loitering inside the museum

    Posted 4 days ago

    Dear Susan

    I agree with the idea of libraries. Here in San Francisco libraries are often a place where the homeless can go to get off the street. I hope that you cities libraries are willing to pitch in.  Hope you come to a good solution. 

    Thanks,

    Rachel



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    Rachel Alschuler
    Museum Education/ Visitor Experience
    San Francisco CA
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  • 6.  RE: Policy and signage for people who are loitering inside the museum

    Posted 3 days ago

    One thing I see missing from this thread so far is the recognition that there are clearly people in your community with needs. This is a fantastic opportunity for your institution to be an advocate for them. Besides a stern policy warning about where that person in need can't go, how can your institution advocate with them to find where they can go?

    Those suggesting a partnership with your libraries are spot on. Libraries have done amazing work to be that safe space for everyone. I really wish more museums were doing the same.  



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    George Garner (he/him/his)
    Assistant Director & Curator
    Civil Rights Heritage Center - Indiana University, South Bend
    South Bend IN
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  • 7.  RE: Policy and signage for people who are loitering inside the museum

    Posted 3 days ago

    Thank you all for your concerns about where people can go to get help. We do already have resources in town for people to go and get in out of the weather, get a meal and access agencies in town that can help them. We provide that information to those in need. The problem is that those who have been loitering have refused assistance for one reason or another and choose not to go. I have contacted our public library and they will be sending over their policies. Thank you all for the suggestion.

     

    Susan Hawksworth, Museum Director

    Smoky Hill Museum

    Division of the Salina Arts and Humanities

    Salina, Kansas






  • 8.  RE: Policy and signage for people who are loitering inside the museum

    Posted 3 days ago
    Edited by Kelly Porter 3 days ago

    I don't know how robust your museum's evaluation programs are, but echoing those who referred to possible solutions that do not involve the criminal justice system, it could be a truly radical act to get a qualitative sense of why the specific people in your lobby chose your lobby. While the answers may seem simple enough--shelter, climate control, a place to be that is clean, has water and a restroom, that has not yet been hostile to these uses/needs--hearing individual stories might actually help to understand the path that leads these particular people to your door. Perhaps the human needs and stories that are elicited could even serve as a basis for an exhibition or cultural collaboration with orgs that work to serve that community. 

    While I understand the complexity of balancing the need for your museum to be able to serve the public in the ways intended by its mission and not be asked to take on a public role for which it is not purpose-built, there could be real value and benefit to looking at houselessness, excessive heat, poverty, low wages or any of the things presumably driving people to seek shelter in your lobby as the kind of human experiences that would be within your mission to address with art and culture, with ways of seeing that might be able to shift politics or sentiment around vulnerable people in your community. 



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    Kelly Porter
    Head of Archives, Preservation Hall
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