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deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum / The Trustees of Reservations Integration Plan FAQ

Why are deCordova and The Trustees integrating?

Our missions are aligned.

  • DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is a dynamic cultural and natural site that works to engage people of all ages in contemporary art, art education, and enjoyment of the landscape.
  • Similarly, The Trustees owns and cares for 118 natural and cultural sites across Massachusetts, including nearby Fruitlands Museum in Harvard and the Old Manse in Concord. The Trustees engages people in nature, culture, and the arts, and have been advancing into contemporary public art through our Art & the Landscape program and exhibitions at other properties including Fruitlands Museum and Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.
  • Both organizations are driven to provide unique and fulfilling experiences for visitors and members.

The two organizations share similar legacies.

  • Like many of the land and property owners who had the vision to leave their beautiful properties to The Trustees to preserve in perpetuity for the benefit of the public, deCordova’s former owner, Julian de Cordova shared similar values when he gave his home and land to the Town of Lincoln in 1930 to establish a public museum and park in perpetuity.
  • The Town of Lincoln created the deCordova nonprofit in 1948 to fulfill the terms of his gift, for the benefit of town residents and other visitors. The Trustees has done similar work with gifted sites, conserving them for the benefit of current and future generations and turning many of our historic homesteads into house museums, public gardens, and landscapes.

Lastly, the integration offers the long-term operational and financial stability that deCordova needs to remain open and strong.

  • As part of their current strategic plan, deCordova’s board determined they needed to think creatively and boldly to stay fiscally strong, and they approached The Trustees as a potential partner.
  • DeCordova now becomes The Trustees’ 118th special place, in a location where we are pleased to join forces to offer even more Massachusetts residents, visitors, and organizational members expanded opportunities to experience nature and art.
  • The integration leverages The Trustees’ 128-year history of stewardship excellence and conservation expertise, our extensive endowment, and our diversified nonprofit revenue streams.
  • In turn, deCordova provides curatorial and educational expertise to The Trustees and many of its other properties.

What is the process that has led to integration?

  • The decision to pursue a permanent relationship with The Trustees came after deCordova’s board and staff conducted a comprehensive strategic and financial planning process in early 2017 and approached The Trustees with a proposal. The proposal was reviewed and approved by both organizations’ boards and an agreement to work toward integration was signed in June 2018. The two organizations worked closely with the Town of Lincoln, including the Selectmen, Town Manager, and a special Working Group formed to review the proposal. The proposal was presented at the October 20, 2018 State of the Town meeting in Lincoln and added to the agenda for a final vote by residents at their annual Town Meeting in March 2019. During that time, negotiations between deCordova, The Trustees, and the Town on two separate agreements were concluded in February 2019. On March 23, 2019 the town voted unanimously to approve the integration of the two organizations.
  • The agreement between deCordova and The Trustees included a commitment to work together on the necessary fundraising, due diligence (including an agreed-upon governance structure and operational budget), and town approval process to lead to a successful integration. That process included multiple opportunities for public discourse in which Lincoln residents and supporters of deCordova and The Trustees could attend and participate in community information sessions so that Lincoln residents could be part of the process, as stated in the original bylaws before the final vote.
  • The agreement was also contingent on a $15 million fundraising campaign mounted by both organizations to secure deCordova’s endowment, operational stability, and to plan for the future. All official and legal requirements have now been fulfilled. The organizations are in the final stages of completing a $15 million fundraising campaign to secure deCordova’s endowment and to support some immediate needs. The campaign has received gifts to date totaling $12.5 million. Both organizations are hoping the news of the integration will inspire more people to get involved.

Are The Trustees buying deCordova?
No, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum as an entity is now a Trustees reservation. The bulk of the land and buildings, however, will continue to be owned by the Town of Lincoln. Under The Trustees umbrella, deCordova will continue to operate as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Changes in the governance of deCordova include The Trustees assuming operational management while building support for deCordova’s mission through its statewide membership program, marketing capacity, and donor base.

Will the town maintain the land and buildings?
No, they will be now be maintained by The Trustees, who will also uphold conservation requirements needed to protect the Town’s drinking water.

Is this essentially a merger?
The integration is not officially a merger because The Trustees will assume management of deCordova as one of its affiliates, while deCordova remains its own 501(c)(3) status.

Will deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum change its brand or name?
The appearance and the mission of deCordova are not changing. The Trustees’ goal is to continue providing inspired art and landscape experiences, at deCordova and other Trustees reservations. Trustees branding will begin to appear on the campus over the coming months.

What will the integration mean to current deCordova members?
DeCordova members are now officially Trustees Members. New memberships purchased at deCordova will provide members with all of the benefits that Trustees members receive.

When will Trustees Members be granted Member privileges at deCordova?
Trustees Members may now present their Trustees Member cards at deCordova for free admission and discounts on programs and on purchases in the shop and café. A full list of Trustees Member benefits is available on our website.

Will Town of Lincoln residents still have free access to the property?
Yes, Lincoln residents will continue to have free access to the grounds and museum as well as use of the parking lot for the annual Fourth of July festivities.

I’d like to donate to deCordova. How do I do that?
As of July 1, we kindly ask that donations be made to The Trustees with an indication that you would like your gift to support deCordova. For questions, please call Jennifer Klahn, Associate Director of Philanthropy at jklahn@thetrustees.org.

Has The Trustees integrated with other organizations in the past?
Yes. Previous integrations included Boston Natural Areas Network in Boston in 2008, Fruitlands Museum in Harvard in 2016, and The FARM Institute in Edgartown in 2016.

Now that integration is official, how long will implementation take?
As with all past integrations for The Trustees, we anticipate working closely over the next 12-18 months to integrate systems, staff, and stewardship.

What is deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum?
DeCordova was founded in 1948 and has since grown into a nationally and internationally recognized venue for contemporary art with a permanent collection of over 3,400 objects. The sculpture park was inaugurated in 1966 and quickly became a signature feature of the museum that now ranges over twenty-eight acres. Today, deCordova welcomes some 80,000 annual visitors who enjoy outdoor sculpture displays and curated indoor exhibits, enhanced by innovative learning and engagement programs designed for all ages.

What is The Trustees of Reservations?
Founded in 1891 by landscape architect Charles Eliot, The Trustees of Reservations preserves, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts. The Trustees protects 118 special places across the state, including iconic places like Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, and World’s End in Hingham.

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© 2019 The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees is a 501c3 nonprofit organization
Est. 1891