Greetings friends and supporters of Pittock Mansion,
As the new CEO of Pittock Mansion Society, it gives me great pleasure to share my vision, Pittock 2.0. This vision aims to transform the historic house museum into a dynamic cultural organization poised for continued growth and vitality. These past six months since I joined in my new role have been intense—but immensely insightful and productive. I have had the opportunity to meet many Portland community members and dialogue with the board, staff, city officials, business leaders, and community stakeholders.
I am delighted to lead this transformation and reimagination journey for our historic Portland icon. I envision changing the paradigm in the historic house museum world by bringing Pittock Mansion forth as an innovative national model. There’s so much potential, and the timing is opportune. I look forward to your engagement and support as we accomplish this bold vision which will serve our Portland and broader community in new and better ways.
Pittock 2.0 is a comprehensive and multi-year vision backed by a strategic action plan. The plan focuses on realigning the organization, building internal systems, and repositioning our external-facing profile with a new community engagement framework. Pittock 2.0 is rooted in three Rs: Relevance, Revitalization, and Reimagination.
Museums in the 21st century—especially history museums—must adapt to rapidly changing demographics and technological advancements. At Pittock Mansion, our new goal is to expand our stories to shed light on the broader period between the mid-1800s and the mid-1900s. By doing this, we aim to recognize the many people and factors that influenced this critical phase in American History. We need to juxtapose stories from the past with the present circumstances and enable our visitors to analyze and learn from successes and failures, pondering upon changes we need to make if we want to recreate history.
We will also adopt an interdisciplinary lens with our storytelling, connecting the related subjects and themes Pittock Mansion embodies, like art, architecture, horticulture, nature, and technology. This approach will make the organization and its offerings more relevant to visitors, partners, and stakeholders.
As part of Pittock 2.0 we will be looking into new collection stewardship and enhanced collections access strategies. We must ensure that our collections of more than 7,000 artifacts are organized appropriately and aligned to support our goal of relevancy. Based on a thoughtful internal assessment and a refreshed interpretation plan, we will plan for acquisition of relevant artifacts, including digital collection assets such as oral histories which will aid in our storytelling. We must be proactive about collection care, and eventually plan towards housing our collections in a climate-controlled storage space.
We will remain committed to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) as a cross-cutting strategy that will guide our organization’s philosophical practices and programs. Please view our Commitment to DEAI statement at pittockmansion.org/DEAI for further details.
Pittock Mansion continues to be an iconic, historic structure in Portland and a popular tourist attraction. Our analysis sheds light on two untapped areas of growth. Most of our attendees are one-time visitors, and many who visit the nearby vista point do not come into the mansion. We must expand our visitorship by creating compelling annual programs, increasing member engagement and benefits, and establishing new partnerships and events. This framework will both generate new interest from the community as well as bring in new earned revenue. We also need to effectively market and communicate what we offer onsite and online, which will attract general visitors to visit the mansion and other buildings.
We are launching two concepts as part of our revitalization strategy:
The Pittock Campus: We will expand the visitor experience, storytelling, and all operational activities across three buildings: the Mansion, the Gate Lodge, and the Garage. Currently, these activities are centralized only in the Mansion. We are very excited to open the Gate Lodge to visitors in the new year. We also look forward to reopening the Admissions Bay in the Garage, which had been closed since the pandemic. Our beautiful buildings and gardens should offer “one” seamless experience, and we need to explicitly reflect that integration across our offerings to the community.
- The Pittock Connections: This concept will thoughtfully guide our future community engagement activities and programs. We will offer two seasons of exhibitions every year so that the community looks forward to coming back many times.
- Pittock Cultural Connections will allow us to continue hosting exhibitions and related programming showcasing the untold stories of marginalized communities in Portland and Oregon. We plan to collaborate with other local museums and community partners to augment—not replicate—efforts in this area.
Pittock Art Connections will allow us to showcase what Pittock Mansion, a house of beauty, naturally stands for: art, architecture, nature, horticulture, photography, and more. Annual exhibitions on these topics will offer a rich visitor experience, which will appeal to many of our international visitors.
Digital as an integral—not optional—experience: Pittock Connections will be an integrated and holistic approach to community engagement. This will naturally extend the visitor experience beyond the onsite visit. A comprehensive digital resource development strategy, including a newly augmented website and digital platform, will allow us to bring Pittock’s collections and Portland stories to a much wider audience who may or may not be able to visit the venue. Digital resources, such as a menu of digitized collections with related engagement tools, will pave way for further research and pre- and post-visit audience engagement. Every future exhibition will have an integrated approach, with related public programs and digital resource development, especially for K–12 audiences and educators.
Once we have stabilized our infrastructure and staffing and activated our new community engagement strategies, we will begin the process of strategic planning and rebranding. This reimagination journey will allow us to think big and outside the box, explore atypical partnerships, and sketch out our aspirations related to capital improvements, thus finding ideas, resources, and partnerships to accomplish our overall Pittock 2.0 goals. This will take time and financial support. But most importantly, this initiative will need a “can-do,” resilient attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit. My career successes have been largely in the areas of revitalization and reimagination, and I look forward to contributing my knowledge and vast network of resources towards accomplishing these goals in collaboration with the Portland community.
THE JOURNEY HAS STARTED WITH A GREAT PROMISE
I am grateful to the Pittock Mansion Society Board of Directors for not only trusting me with the leadership at this critical juncture in the organization’s history but making the preliminary resources available for me to launch Pittock 2.0. We have started rebuilding our staff team, which had been significantly minimized during COVID. I have reorganized our staff structure into five new departments: Finance and Administration, Facilities and Operations, Interpretation and Community Engagement, Development and Membership, and a new department of Marketing, Communications and Special Events. Complementary expertise and a high sense of excitement and commitment among our staff are foundational for the organization’s success.
Heartfelt appreciation and thanks to the following foundations and individual donors who—over the last two months—have endorsed their support for Pittock 2.0 by making significant contributions:
- An anonymous donation of $150,000 towards infrastructure and technology improvements—critical for the launch of Pittock 2.0
- Oregon Community Trust Anonymous Donor for $25,000 towards general operating support
- Ritz Family Foundation for a $40,000 grant over two years towards the Pittock Connections exhibitions, programs, and digital resources
- Dan Bergsvik and Don Hastler for $20,000 over two years towards the Pittock Connections exhibitions, programs, and digital resources
A special thanks also to Bart Peterson and Rose City Philanthropy for sponsoring the recording of some of our lectures, which will provide the digital content for future programming.
THE TASK AHEAD
Success of Pittock 2.0 will rest on few critical factors:
- Preservation of the Pittock campus buildings is at the core of Pittock 2.0. We need to be proactive vs reactive in terms of addressing the preservation needs and develop short- and long-term plans in collaboration with City of Portland, Parks and Recreation department. A stronger and more strategic partnership will allow us to thoughtfully dialogue and develop short- and long-term goals to address the key elements of our partnership around preservation, maintenance, service to the community, and future sustainability. I am extremely grateful to our Portland Parks and Recreation Director Adena Long and the Parks and Recreation Board for welcoming our new strategic vision and sharing their eagerness to continue the dialogue and ideation.
- Strategic fund development efforts that focus on diversifying both the earned and contributed revenue channels. Our fundraising effort launching this fall and continuing over the next few years will focus on five key areas: Infrastructure and Operations, Community Engagement and Programs, Collection Stewardship, Preservation and Capital Campaign for Endowment, and Capital Projects.
- New and reinvigorated stakeholder engagement that will help us diversify and build a strong network of audiences, influencers, and partners essential for the long-term sustainability and positioning of the organization.
We can’t accomplish the Pittock 2.0 vision alone. Please join us in spreading the word and engaging with us to learn more and share your ideas. We welcome you to be part of the Pittock 2.0 journey.