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Summary of Strategic Plan 2016-2020

We're all about Pennsylvania!



The PHMC works in partnership with others to preserve the Commonwealth's natural and cultural heritage as a steward, teacher and advocate for the people of Pennsylvania and the nation.


The Pennsylvania State Archives was created in 1903 and the State Museum of Pennsylvania in 1905. The Pennsylvania Historical Commission was established by legislation in 1913. In 1945 the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was established merging these operations.  The commission acquired it first historic site in 1914 and today the commission is responsible for a total of forty historic sites and museums. Fourteen are managed by the PHMC Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums. Twenty-six are operated by partner organizations or friends’ groups but they remain the property of the Commonwealth and a stewardship responsibility of the PHMC.  

The role of PHMC responsibilities has grown steadily over time.  

The legal responsibilities of the PHMC are defined in the History Code, the Administrative Code, and State Constitution. The primary duties of PHMC include:

  • the conservation of Pennsylvania's historical and natural heritage
  • the preservation of public records, historic documents and objects of historic interest
  • the identification, restoration, and preservation of architecturally and historically significant sites and structures

It also states, “The irreplaceable historical, architectural, archeological and cultural heritage of this commonwealth should be preserved and protected for the benefit of all the people, including future generations.”

A summary of PHMC responsibilities and duties as identified in the History Code is attached as Appendix III.

Core Impacts

  • We collect, safeguard, and share our state’s most treasured documents and objects.
  • We teach Pennsylvania history to children and adults, because informed citizens are the bedrock of democracy.
  • We promote economic development by protecting and repurposing Pennsylvania’s historic buildings.
  • We help create vital places to live and work by protecting the uniqueness of Pennsylvania’s distinctive communities.
  • We save tax dollars by helping state and local governments manage their records efficiently.
  • We protect basic legal rights of Pennsylvanians by safeguarding property and legislative documents.
  • We attract tourists to Pennsylvania’s historic sites and museums.

Planning Assumptions

  • The plan is based on a vision of where the PHMC should be in 2020.
  • The initial plan’s strategies and tactics covered the period 2012 through 2015.  This plan covers the period 2016 through 2020.
  • The plan assumes modest growth in the general operations budget and that filling critical staff vacancies will be required if PHMC is to successfully implement its mission as now defined.
  • The plan assumes that additional capital and project funding will be needed to achieve the buildings and collection digitization goals.
  • The plan assumes that sustainable growth in the future will require increased earned income and increased private, foundation and corporate support.
  • The plan assumes that PHMC can operate with improved efficiency with the cooperation of other state agencies.

Brief Overview of PHMC in 2016: Operations and Challenges

The PHMC operates through five Bureaus and each offers a variety of programs and services. 

The commission provides archaeological, preservation and educational services in all 67 counties and has facilities in 27 counties across the Commonwealth.  The facilities of the Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums number 464 buildings totaling 1,292,617 sq. ft. on 3,504 acres of land.  The Harrisburg facilities of the PHMC total an additional 535,110 sq. ft.

Through its diverse facilities and programs PHMC serves approximately one million visitors each year. In 2015 an additional 4.5 million accessed PHMC through digital and online resources. PHMC is the steward of the largest collection of Pennsylvania materials in the Commonwealth.  The collections include more than 7.5 million objects and specimens, and 70,000 cubic feet (250 million pages) of archival material. The PHMC is also responsible for 233,726 cubic feet of records in the State Records Center.

Although these numbers indicate that PHMC is a very large and diverse operation, total support from the Commonwealth represents less than one tenth of one percent of the Commonwealth budget. 

PHMC’s vision is to expand public access to collections, etc., and in order to achieve that, our largest needs are: to gain intellectual control over collections; to improve stewardship of collections and facilities; to provide adequate staffing; to secure adequate financial resources; to build a stronger base of private support; and, to reduce many obstacles to efficient operations

A Vision for 2020

The PHMC of 2020 will share its collections and information with millions of people who never enter the doors of its museums and archives; will provide relevant, meaningful experiences for people who visit in person; and will provide essential services to state agencies and local governments that increase their efficiency and reduce their costs.

  • Students will visit the State Archives and State museums and historic sites virtually to explore objects and documents that tell the story of Pennsylvania’s history;
  • Visitors to state museums and historic sites will customize their own tours using smartphones, tablets, and other personal devices;
  • Pennsylvania residents will appreciate the significant contributions history makes informing the character of their community and landscapes;
  • Pennsylvania communities will leverage their historic places to encourage economic growth;
  • State Historic Preservation office business will be streamlined and made more accessible to the public;
  • Online tools will provide access to documents and objects that are currently hidden from public view, allowing users to customize their own experience and become lifelong learners;
  • State agencies will reduce their dependence on paper and will manage their digital records in a way that is secure and cost-effective;
  • More Pennsylvanians will recognize PHMC’s brand and equate it with high quality programs, exhibits, and customer service;
  • Increasing private support will supplement public support to provide a greater variety of public programs and educational tools;
  • PHMC will be recognized as a center of life-long learning.  

Goals and Strategies

PHMC Collection Goals, 2020

  • Gain greater intellectual and physical control over all PHMC collections. Improve stewardship of all collections.
  • Increase public accessibility through digitization and online access.
  • Secure appropriate staffing levels for curatorial and archival collections.
  • Achieve highest professional standards for collections management and care at all PHMC museums and archives.
  • Continue to develop a digital archives and digital records center.
  • Continued collections development through targeted acquisitions and de-accessioning.
  • Develop collecting scope and priorities.

PHMC Education Goals, 2020   

  • Promote historical context as a tool for developing critical thinking skills.
  • Increase public accessibility through digitization and online access.
  • Engage new audiences to raise awareness and promote broad support for the preservation of the Commonwealth’s heritage.
  • Provide quality visitor services at PHMC facilities and programs statewide.
  • Develop programs, publications, digital media and exhibits that inspire, entertain and inform PHMC’s diverse audiences and encourage people to get engaged in contemporary issues.
  • Reinforce PHMC’s reputation for accuracy and quality of the information it provides.
  • Develop partnerships with educational institutions at all levels to support their efforts to teach history.

PHMC Facilities Goals, 2020

  • Align PHMC facility responsibilities with our financial and staffing resources.
  • Increase public accessibility through digitization and online access.
  • Improve stewardship and eliminate deferred maintenance of PHMC historic structures and landscapes.
  • Upgrade collections and archival storage to meet the highest professional standards for environment, security, operational efficiency, and overall stewardship.
  • Upgrade the PHMC Capitol Complex facilities (State Museum, Archives, and Keystone) into an integrated, efficiently utilized facility while respecting the architectural significance of the Midcentury Modern design.
  • Provide high quality amenities at all PHMC facilities based on the changing needs and expectations of visitors.
  • Complete design and construction of a sustainable state-of-the-art state archives facility.

PHMC Financial Goals, 2020

  • Secure increased state funding and complement to achieve essential staffing levels.
  • Generate increased revenue at all PHMC historic sites and museums.
  • Increase capacity to raise substantial support for PHMC from individual, corporate, foundation and government sources, particularly through Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation (PHF).
  • Expand state grants and tax credits available to Pennsylvania museums, sites, archives, and historic properties.
  • Secure increased federal and state support for preservation programs.
  • Insure PHF fundraising matches PHMC priorities.

PHMC Leadership and Partnership Goals, 2020

  • Enhance PHMC’s leadership position in the professional museum, preservation and archive communities in Pennsylvania and the nation.
  • Expand strategic partnerships to provide highest return for taxpayer investment and to gain new audiences.
  • Strengthen the public’s perception of PHMC’s places as centers of community life and as safe place for public discourse.
  • Promote PHMC’s role among state agencies as the leader for preservation, archives, records management, and as a steward of the state’s cultural and natural history collections.
  • Meet or exceed all professional standards for excellence.
  • Promote the adoption and implementation of Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Plan to position PHMC to lead an effective and proactive statewide historic preservation program.

PHMC Organizational Management and Efficiency Goals, 2020

  • Enhance PHMC efficiency and productivity to become a model state agency and a model of public private partnerships and collaborations.
  • Create a high energy, high productivity, high satisfaction workplace.
  • Improve staff performance standards, talent management, and professional development opportunities.
  • Maintain financial management and internal financial controls in compliance with state initiatives.

PHMC Marketing and Communication Goals, 2020

  • Elevate PHMC and its component brands to be among the most recognized and appreciated educational, public service, and tourist assets in the Commonwealth.
  • Demonstrate the public value of history, natural history, preservation, and heritage tourism for the citizens of the Commonwealth.
  • Improve the visibility of PHMC at state owned historic sites and facilities.
  • Develop marketing and communication strategies that resonate with a 21st century audience.
  • Advocate the importance and relevance of PHMC to various audiences.