The Museum On Main, the keeper of a number of treasured Pleasanton relics, recently fired its executive director in a move to cut costs in a down economy.
Executive Director Julia Bussinger, who began as the head of the museum in January 2008, was let go last week, and the position will not be replaced to save costs.
"We looked at the economy here and we decided that we had to eliminate the position of executive director," said Roz Wright, who took over last week as interim president of the Livermore-Amador Valley Historical Society, which runs the museum. "Essentially, the executive board is pretty much it. We are continuing to retain what I call the meat and potato people--the education director, part-time curator and volunteer coordinator and our part-time office manager--so we've had to cut down to bare bones."
Wright is filling in as president while current president Rebecca Bruner, a local Realtor, is taking a family-related leave.
The Museum On Main, located at 603 Main St., is a nonprofit and receives the money to run its various education programs through fundraising events and memberships. One such fundraiser had to be cancelled recently.
The abrupt Pleasanton Hotel restaurant closure on New Year's Day forced the museum to cancel its popular Wines and Valentine's dinner, to be held there on Feb. 7. The event featured a visiting winemaker, pairing different wines with dishes.
"It was a very nice event and well-attended," Wright said. "We just weren't able to scramble fast enough to revive that in another location and so we're planning another event for April or May."
That event will have the theme of "Saloons, brothels and gambling," and is planned to feature gaming and possibly volunteers dressed up in period costume.
Despite having to trim costs, Wright said the museum hasn't seen a decline in donations from memberships. There are approximately 300 museum members.
Other events will go on as planned, including a new one suggested by board member Sandy Thorne called Paint the Town, to be held in May.
"We're hoping to get artists from around town painting local scenes and coming back to the museum and having an auction of their paintings, with a percentage of their sales going to the artists," Wright said. "My husband and I have been to one of those in Ojai and it was a lot of fun."
Hollywood in Pleasanton will be held again in August or September and the immensely popular Ghost Walk will return just before Halloween in October.
"We make good money on that; people come from all over the nine counties," Wright said.
Wright said the museum is always looking for volunteers. In fact, that's how she got her start.
She and her husband Dave were docents at the Oakland Museum of California before it opened, working in the natural history department. A Pleasanton resident since 1970, Wright remembers a different town--one where seeing people traveling on horses by her home wasn't an uncommon occurrence.
Already, the museum has 30 volunteers, including high school students who receive course credit for their time. There are also docents and weekend volunteers.
Another bright spot is the recent opening of the Alviso Adobe Community Park on Foothill Road, which chronicles the city's past through the time of the Ohlone Indians and dairies like Meadowlark.
"It gives us another avenue to show our stuff," Wright said. "We're looking forward to the Firehouse Arts Center and we'd like to bring out lectures down to the Firehouse. We could have that cultural corridor."
So, despite having some financial pains, Wright stressed that "we're alive and well."