Dear Friends of Poe,
A couple weeks ago we convened the Poe Museum’s fifth Edgar Allan Poe Young Writers’ Conference. This year we hosted ten students from seven different states from Massachusetts to Arizona. Why did these talented high school students (pictured above) give up a week of their summer to come to the Poe Museum? They came for the same reason that hundreds of students on field trips leave the Poe Museum with books purchased from our gift shop. Teachers often tell us that Edgar Allan Poe is the first author who excites students about reading and writing. Among the students of yesterday who credited Poe with inspiring their careers are Jules Verne, Alfred Hitchcock, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Perhaps one of the students at this summers’ conference, one of the students who visited the museum on a school field trip, or even one of the hundreds of thousands of students who visit our website each month will write the next great novel or screenplay. These students are one reason I support the Poe Museum.
We have seen our numbers grow significantly in the years I have served on the board of the Poe Museum. In 2001, our annual attendance was 11,000. For the past year our attendance had grown to 18,000. In 2001 we had 46 school groups visit the museum, but this past year we had 81 groups. Since 2009 when the National Endowment for the Arts made Poe the center of a national program to stimulate reading, the Poe Museum has brought visiting exhibits and programs to schools and libraries all over the southeast.
The Poe Museum is more successful than it has ever been, yet our need for individual financial support has never been greater. Five years ago we relied on a large group of donors who gave $50, $100, $200, and $500 each year. Since the beginning of the recession, our support has fallen significantly. We do not have a large endowment, nor do we rely on government support for our operations. We depend upon a balanced mix of support from admissions fees, shops sales, corporate support, individual support, grants, and modest local government support. We depend upon all of these, and when the money is not present, we can only cut our service and cut our staff.
As we begin a new fiscal year, please join me in making a gift to the Poe Museum that will help stimulate the educational motivation of the next generation at a time when our educational institutions are in crisis and need the auxiliary help of organizations like the Poe Museum. Your donation will also help us pay other expenses associated with preserving, exhibiting, and insuring the world’s finest collection of Poe artifacts and memorabilia (not to mention the upkeep of a 260-year-old building). As the Poe Museum celebrates its ninetieth anniversary this year, we look forward to laying the foundation for the next ninety years of inspiring young minds.
Thank you in advance for your generous support. If you have not visited the Poe Museum recently, we invite you to come this summer to see our incredible new temporary exhibit featuring dozens of rarely seen Poe letters and manuscripts from seven different private and public collections.
Harry Lee Poe