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John Verrill

Practical Matters for Small Museums

P.O. Box 325
402 South Main Street
Hebron, MD 21830


After graduation from college I began my career as an elementary school teacher, but after 4 years I found my interest had waned and I started a new career path as a sales representative for major publishing companies.  Several years later I found myself again seeking something more stimulating and after brief stints as a materials manager, and agricultural entrepreneur I accepted an interim position as Museum Manager of the NASA Visitor Center at Wallops Island, Virginia ( and there found my “niche” while researching the history of the facility and giving tours of the former navy base and NACA (predecessor of NASA) launch facilities.

From there I went on to work as executive director at the Purnell Museum in Snow Hill, MD ( where I further refined my interest in museum management.

In 1993, I was appointed Executive Director of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society. Here I was able to work in preservation as I worked with other partners to restore the historic Eastville Inn, the Hopkins Brothers Store and Ker Place the Society’s historic house in Onancock ( all of which were listed in the National Register. In early 2008 I was appointed Director of Historic Resources for the Manassas Museum System of the City of Manassas, Virginia ( Unfortunately my tenure was cut short in February, 2010 by major shortfalls in municipal funding resulting in a 50% reduction in museum funding and layoff of all but a skeleton staff.

Currently I am the Executive Director of the Early American Industries Association, an international membership organization, and I am principal of a budding museum consulting service-Practical Matters for Small Museums

I also write blogs on museum issues, serve on the Mentor Committee of the American Association for State and Local History, serve as faculty on the Virginia Museums Forum, advise the Small Museum Association in its strategic planning, and continue my service as Leadership Development Chair for the Virginia Association of Museums.

For 24 years I have worked with the Small Museum Association serving as president, treasurer, conference chair and board member. I have served on the Small Museum Committee of the Mid Atlantic Association of Museums; the Standards Committee of the American Association for State and Local History (AALSH) where I chaired the Mission, Vision and Governance team which designed the MVG curriculum for its StEPS program; currently I serve on the AASLH Mentor Committee; APVA Preservation Virginia “Most Endangered Sites Committee”; and I am past president (March 2008-March 2010) of the Virginia Association of Museums, the largest state museum organization in the U.S (

My service to the community reaches beyond my employment as I was a founding board member of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Barrier Islands Center museum ( I have served on the board of the Arlington Foundation the ancestral of home of the Custis family on the Eastern Shore (

Served as a board member of the Furnace Town Living Heritage Foundation, the Francis Makemie Society, and have mentored or advised many museums across Maryland and Virginia.

I have used the skills that I have learned to help others by being a faculty member of the Virginia Association of Museums Forum since 1996 and I served for two years on the faculty of the Seminar for Historical Administration at Colonial Williamsburg. 

Many museum conferences have given me the opportunity to be a presenter on topics such as Museum Ethics; Roles & Responsibilities of Museum Boards of Directors; Fraud and How to Prevent It; and Collections Management, and at these same conferences I have been able to learn about grantsmanship and fund development.

My community involvement includes being past president of the Hebron (MD) Lions Club, the Rotary Club of Melfa (VA), the Rotary Club of Onancock (VA) and served as President of the Wicomico (MD) Farm and Home Show.

Additionally I serve as a Lay Eucharistic Minister and Vestry member at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Quantico.