A new executive director has been tapped to help turn around the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, formerly known as the Amherst Museum.
Herbert Schmidt, who has more than 12 years experience working with nonprofits, will head an organization that is under increasing pressure by the Town of Amherst to become less dependent on public tax dollars.
Schmidt, of Alden, said his vision is to showcase the area’s history and create more of a regional attraction at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, which has a museum, country store and 11 historic buildings situated on 35 acres at 3755 Tonawanda Creek Road.
“With the volunteers, staff and other members of our community, this vision will surely come into fruition,” Schmidt said in a prepared statement.
Schmidt will begin his new role as executive director on March 24.
The Amherst Museum was completely funded by the Town of Amherst to the tune of almost $1 million until 2010, when the town cut the cord with the facility and spun it off into its own autonomous organization.
The town had a contract to provide the nonprofit organization with $475,000 a year for four years ending this year.
But in December, the town agreed to extend that contract through 2015, because the organization was searching for a new executive director and wanted some sort of stability in the funding stream for at least a couple more years to lure candidates to the job.
No formal funding from the town is committed after 2015.
“They continue to be very dependent on the town financially,” said Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein. “I’m hoping they’ll do some more aggressive fundraising and turn it around.”
Schmidt earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental recreation education at SUNY Cortland and has a master’s in public administration from SUNY Brockport.
He has held positions with the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, Boy Scouts of America; the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation; and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Most recently, he worked as consulting editor for Buffalo Standard Printing and events and promotions manager with the German-American Musicians Association.
Schmidt lives in Alden with his wife, Shannon, and their three children.
Also announced was the hiring of Spencer Morgan as director of development and marketing at Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village.
Morgan attended SUNY Buffalo State, where he received a master’s degree in history, with a concentration in museum studies. He spent nearly five years as curator of the Steel Plant Museum in Buffalo. He will begin his new job March 31.