February 20, 2020
Old Sturbridge Village Assumes Operations of RI Museum

January 3, 2020 — Old Sturbridge Village, a nonprofit museum in Sturbridge that depicts early New England life, this week announced it has entered into a partnership to handle daily operations for a Rhode Island museum with a similar mission in what could be an increasingly common arrangement between nonprofits to team up to increase operational efficiency.

Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) said the agreement calls for it to manage Coggeshall Farm Museum (CFM), a nonprofit located 70 miles away in Bristol, Rhode Island, that for half a century has been interpreting life on a marsh farm in the 1790s.

The two organizations, in a joint statement, said the partnership is "intended to sustain and expand living history in the New England area."

Jim Donahue, president and chief executive officer of OSV, will serve as executive director of Coggeshall Farm Museum.

Eleanor Langham served as ED of CFM for nearly three years until December 2018, but is returning on Monday as a program coordinator. In the interim, CFM's board had managed operations.

Donahue noted, "We will handle the back-office functions like accounting, fundraising, marketing and human resources for a management fee that is significantly less than what the farm would have to pay to employ these functions individually.

"We will also put at least two full-time employees at the farm year-round. These professionals will be supervised and supported by Old Sturbridge Village staff. They will work collaboratively to rebuild and revitalize the successful agricultural and horticultural programs for which the farm is known and loved while also introducing new programs and experiences that have proven successful at Old Sturbridge Village. The economies of scale on the expense side combined with the program synergy created by the two organizations makes this a real win-win."

Discussions between the two organizations began in the first quarter of 2019. Donahue said the partnership appealed to OSV, because it helps fulfill his organization's original intent to be a museum of New England. In addition, it gives OSV better access to a source of highly specific talent, which otherwise is difficult to find.

CFM, a 48-acre site, welcomes about 10,000 visitors annually. Since 1973 it has operated as a nonprofit organization, guided by an all-volunteer board of directors and operated by a small staff

OSV, comprising 40 original buildings on 200 acres, is the largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast, depicts a rural New England town of the 1830s. It annually attracts 260,000 visitors, and in 2018 was ranked by the Boston Business Journal as the 15th most popular nonprofit museum in Massachusetts based on annual attendance.

"Through this partnership, Coggeshall Farm Museum will benefit from the proven success and knowledgeable staff at Old Sturbridge Village ”“ expanding opportunities for reach and visitation," CFM noted.

It added, The two entities will work collaboratively to rebuild the successful agricultural and horticultural programs that the Farm is known for, while introducing new programs and experiences that have seen past success at OSV."

For the year ending Dec. 31, 2017, CFM reported $157,699 in revenue and $158,497 in expenses, according to its most recently available federal tax filing. It ended the year with $184,600 in net assets.

For the year ending Jan. 31, 2018, OSV reported $11.76 million in revenue, $11.92 million in expenses, and net assets of $7.3 million, according to its most recently available federal tax filing.

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