December 18, 2011

Battle group receives state charter


PLATTSBURGH — The Battle of Plattsburgh Association has received a state charter, which recognizes its efforts to offer a top-notch local museum.

The association, which runs a War of 1812 interpretive museum at the PARC museum complex near U.S. Oval, is now able to continue operating as a nonprofit, charitable corporation.


"As with anything in the education field, we're required to receive an incorporation certificate from the New York State Education Department," explained Keith Herkalo, president of the association's Board of Directors.

"The certificate allows us to extend the tax-deduction status for donations."

The Battle of Plattsburgh Association formed in 1999, but the application process for state certification began in earnest just a few years ago.


The organization had to show that it has continued to meet various requirements as an educational facility.

"In order to receive a permanent charter, you have to make sure the museum is mature and stable," Herkalo said, citing the areas of personnel, finances, facilities, collections, exhibitions and programs as guidelines for achieving success.

The New York State Museum, as a representative of the state's Education Department, reviewed documents submitted by the association since the process began, including a list of officers, minutes from Board of Directors meetings and audit reports.

"We're a business that happens to be a museum," Herkalo said of the organization's continued success over the past decade.

"We've expanded in a climate of recession. They (the state) want to know that we have remained fiscally viable."


The state also puts a lot of emphasis on a museum's ability to care for and display its collection.

BOPA has consistently provided a standing exhibit — one that does not change over time — in both its art gallery and Battle of Plattsburgh Interpretive Center, as well as a revolving exhibit that changes every 12 to 18 months.

The revolving exhibit featured "The Life of A Soldier" before its recent display, "Misses, Mistresses and Misconceptions," which focuses on the life of women during the War of 1812 era.

A new exhibit highlighting the War of 1812 time line is scheduled to go on display next year in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the war.

"The staff at the New York State Museum looked at the way we handled our exhibits and collection and were impressed," Herkalo said.

A representative from the State Museum also held a short-notice visit of the Plattsburgh facility to observe staff and review such infrastructure issues as displays, presentations, collections storage, security and fire protection, he added.


The state recognition will also come in handy as the museum works on securing grants. The state charter is a solid reference tool when competing for grant money available, Herkalo noted.

"It puts us on the map as a formal organization that is meeting the requirements for an educational perspective."


Tammy Rock, who recently came on board as the museum manager, praised the smooth transition she has had at the facility.

"Keith and the board have really been great mentors helping to make the transition successful."

She noted that the state designation will strengthen the association's ability to borrow exhibits and artifacts from other facilities.

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