The following is a growing list of funding possibilities,

Kickstarter Campaigns: A project to fully renovate the museum and building ($8M) could be proposed on kickstater with various rewards identified (Day passes, season passes, lifetime passes, wear a suit of armor for a day, fencing lessons…) The museum staff could create some really neat rewards to attract all levels of funders. Another advantage is you could create high dollar rewards: $10,000 puts your name or company logo on a shield hung in the entry. $100,000 places a crest of arms incorporating your family name or company logo in the front lobby and a suit of armor on loan for 1 year… $500,000 gives you or your company…This would also put the museum issue out in the public and build awareness and funding. The key is we would need to have members from Higgins endorse the project and the rewards. Campaign: Similar to Kickstarter

Hire Professional Firm: Hire a professional grant-seeking and professional development / fundraising firm to build the endowment.

Architecture Projects at Universities: Contact local and regional architecture schools to have them adopt the building as senior projects. Create a contest between schools.

Pub or Restaurant: Build a theme based Pub or Restaurant outside the Armory to further attract patrons and awareness.

Mobile Armory Exhibit: Modify an old school bus into a traveling exhibit. It could travel to Medieval fairs, schools and other events beyond the local area to build awareness and collect memberships.

and some more:

1) Look into Mass Save.  “They provide businesses (and residents) with interest free loans, free energy audits, discounts on lighting etc.”


2) Ask patrons to buy from when making online purchases.  A portion of the proceeds will go to the museum of the buyer’s choice.   Goodsearch will do something similar, donating a penny for every search on its engine.


3) From the Save the Higgins Armoury Facebook group: “I don’t know how to go about it but this is one of two ideas that I have. Approach ST Gobains/Norton Company and ask them to underwrite a new exhibit in a hall to be called “Saint Gobain’s Hall” This company’s history is with glass manufacturing, so it is obvious that the Higgins Building would be of interest. The collection to be displayed in this hall would be that of modern armor, which they make. They also make armor glass.

The history of Norton Company, (The Norton Story by Tymeson) describes how George Alden and Milton Higgins (founders of what would become Worcester Polytech) with others, purchased in 1884 from the Norton Pottery the grinding wheel manufacturing and formed Norton Company. The 130 year anniversary is next year. John Jeppson at Norton Pottery came along to make the emery grinding wheels and became one of the principal stockholders and and one of the 7 founders.

This wing should have a firefighting armor display with a memorial to the six firefighters who died in the tragic fire. The 1999 Cold Storage Warehouse fire will have its 15 year anniversary as well next year.

There you go. A new Higgins Armory dedicated to the armor, glass, firefighters and veterans!”


4) Many people have suggested applying for grants and seeking out philanthropic groups and individuals (Bill and Melinda Gates, Robert Craft, Koch brothers, Warren Buffet, etc.)


5) Host a living history event (like a tournament) to raise awareness and funding.


6) Sell made-to-order replication pieces.


7) Contact local authors (especially fantasy and history authors, especially locals like RA Salvatore and Bernard Cornwell) to do book signings.  Ask if they would let their readers know.  Ask if they would be willing to donate some of the sales from book signings.  If they’re not willing, it would still increase attendance.


8) Increase the admission fee by two or three dollars.


9) Appeal to schools, youth groups, scouts, etc., to have more field trips to the Higgins.


10) Reach out to the Ghost Hunters.  Perhaps they could use their platform to help spread the word.


11) Ask martial arts groups to come and do demonstrations in costume.


12) Consider going to Ren Faires (King Richard’s Faire, for example) to fundraise or hold demonstrations.


13) Advertise with Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament.


14) “A gala event to raise money maybe….Arts Worcester, I’m looking at you.”


15) Host ghost tours.


16) Merge with The Royal Armories.


17) “Hire a professional fundraising team to solicit major companies to donate and to have a gallery in their name of a loan of a suit of armor at their company.”


18) Do a Groupon deal.  Reach out to people that don’t know you’re there.


19) Link up to the Smithsonian.


20) “Investigate green architects to address building upgrades.”


21) Daniel Lora to the Save the Higgins page: “You should message me. I could potentially help out. I have past years of fundraising experience.”


22) “Why not ask the Battle for the Nations Team USA to do a fundraising demonstration? I’m pretty sure any SCA or ARMA group would be willing to as well.”


23) Sword Forum International: “SFI will donate free advertising & promotion space to Higgins.”


24) “What about asking the local colleges to buy memberships for their students? $x thousand per year of support and their students attend Higgins for free? This is done in RI to support the zoo and RISD (RI School of Design).”


25) “There’s tons of federal grant money for energy efficiency projects- I bet this would definitely qualify.”


26) Crowdfund.  Have a penny or bottle drive.


27) Ask local colleges and universities to donate to the endowment.


28) Put the money raised from the auction toward the endowment.


29) “Take a small amount of the $2 million from the auction and place a full page ad in the Arts section of the Sunday NYT, looking for an individual or consortium to Save the Higgins.”


30) “Hire a consultant to research and reach out to private collectors. Find out who, worldwide, cares about arms and armor and approach them both as potential donors and the beginning of a much broader network of support for the Higgins.”


31) “Research federal or state grant options that would support the redevelopment of the area around the Armory, to make it more attractive and easier to approach. Doing this would give the city more incentive to help the Armory stay where it is.”


32) “Solar and/or wind power installation on the building to offset the utility costs. It will probably be a sizable initial investment, but would more than likely pay for itself relatively quickly. Run a donation drive to help pay specifically for the install costs. Let us help!”


33) “Reach out to the Society for Creative Anachronisms. They have an international membership in the millions, and “medieval everything” is precisely what they do. With the incredibly wide range of skillsets members have, the SCA may be able (and probably more than willing!) to help out with everything from volunteers to material donations to maintenance assistance to fundraising drives. Many regional members are already watching this with concern; they just need someone to show them what they can do to help.”


34) “Have a huge Renaissance Faire to raise funds. There are tons of Rennies who love the place.”


35) Do like Hanover Theatre does. Have a dinner/ museum evening night package deal. Instead of a dinner and a movie night, have restaurants downtown or elsewhere propose this package deal. Maybe even have the Toolhouse Maxwell silvermans/Maxines provide the bus there with all of the new local colleges that have moved in downtown.


36) Have a “Save the Higgins” sponsored shirt sales event.


37) Reach out to all the public elementary schools or anyone even the colleges who take history/geography and make it a must school trip to Higgins for educational purposes.


38) With the new $44 million movie tax incentive maybe you could alert the MFA/ Mass Film Industry to have movies filmed there. Rent it out or something.


39) Have Fall Medieval Faires (Theme) there.  Dress up and sell products during the harvest season.


40) Go green. Rooftop agri-products produced during summer, like on the rooftops in NYC, and sell it.  Sort of a local farmers’ market fair in the parking lot. Maybe a little far-fetched, but something of that sort.


41) Do private party package deals. Have weddings there, banquets, like the Medieval Manor in Boston.


42) Have the Worcester Chamber of Commerce who publishes the Mass. Visitior’s Assistance booklet add the museum as a top Central Mass place to visit- for any new tourist to the city.


43) Maybe have a corporate engraved name plate added to the wall or floor with the name of the sponsor/corporations and donations from people made on behalf of saving the museum. The bigger the donation the larger the name plate, and so forth. Also could be a tax write-off for non-profit organizations if given as a gift.


44) Have a telephone dial-a-thon for Save the HIggins” museum for public donations. Volunteers much appreciated. Or match a program cent -for- cent or dollar -for- dollar for money raised.


45) How about a 5k walk/run road race for Save the Higgins.


(Fun note, 35-45 all came from one person who would very much like to see the Higgins stay open!)


46) “The largest annual medieval academic conference is happening at Kalamazoo, Michigan in early May. The conference organizers should be contacted and a Save The Higgins representative should go and give a presentation their opening night.”


47) Contact the NRA for corporate sponsorship.


48) Have the Higgins Armory Museum become an annex building for the Worcester Art Museum.  Offer a 2 for 1 discount pass. So if each museum is $10/ adult, you pay $14 and get to see both.


49) Look into Mass Save.  “They provide businesses (and residents) with interest free loans, free energy audits, discounts on lighting etc.”


50) Have food options.  The Boston Public Library has two cafes.  The Downeaster train (Boston to Brunswick, ME) makes almost 10% of its profits from food sales.  “Reach out to a local bakery for breads and pastries, things that don’t need a refrigeration unit (like sandwiches, yogurt and salads, that could come later). Have coffee and tea and a small mini fridge with some sodas, water, and juices. Work with a volunteer to cover it and I can almost guarantee it will start bringing profits in. People want food options on site.  It’s a big deal even for larger, more established museums.”


51) Advertise with the MBTA, WRTA, tour buses.  It’s so easy to get to the Higgins (even from the MBTA lines), but there is no mention of that on the website. is a good example of how to do this.  And the man who came up with this idea spent a few hours and researched and wrote up directions to the Higgins using public transit, several options listed.


52) Getting the word out to the SCA, Star Wars groups that present at the museum (sci fi geeks would probably lend support) and reaching out to Ghost Hunters (since they covered the armory in an episode) would be a great way to energize those communities.


53) Ask local musicians to throw a benefit concert.  Mike K posted on the Save the Higgins Facebook page that he’s willing to volunteer his equipment.


54) Look into fundraising websites like,, or  “The advantage [to Kickstarter] is you could create high dollar rewards: $10,000 puts your name or company logo on a shield hung in the entry. $100,000 places a crest of arms incorporating your family name or company logo in the front lobby and a suit of armor on loan for 1 year… $500,000 gives you or your company…

Maybe Kickstarter and Amazon would be willing to waive or reduce their fees when you hit the really high reward levels…”


55) Advertise and spread the word through local podcasters.  (Some locals podcasters have already begun to do this on their own.)


56) “Start hosting different kind of events. Like open mics. Musicians always bring a crowd.”


57) Shawn Shaw on the Save the Higgins Facebook page: “So, it appears the Higgins has some major energy costs. This is an area I have some experience in and I’d like to offer some help.”  He is currently working  on energy efficiency/conservation and renewable energy ideas to cut operating costs.


58) Reach out to or advertise with likeminded and local locations, like Hammond Castle in Rockport, MA.


59) Let some of the pieces go to a “traveling collection” that can be rented out.


60)  Angela Faneuf has offered to co-create a similar fundraising affair, such as an indoor Renaissance Festival or a Masquerade Ball, to raise money and generate publicity.


61) Host classes on how to make maille, welding, glassblowing, etc.  (Sariah Armstrong of Princeton has the knowhow to make maille and maille jewelry and is willing to teach.  She’s also willing to make items to donate to a benefit auction to raise money.)


62) “Involve Worcester organizations such as:

The Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, The Womans’ Club, Community Colleges in the area, High School boosters, ROTC, Boy and Girl Scouts, The Massachusetts Film Commission, Legislators (both Republican and Democratic), Members of Congress, The Mayor, Town Council Members, Travel Agencies, AAA’s Travel Department, Kerry’s replacement candidate, The Governor, Deval Patrick and many others.
The state is dependent upon the revenue generated by tours and individuals visiting from both in-state and out-of-state.  Ask Sixty Minutes to send one of the producers to interview the Incorporators, visitors, academic people and supporters of the museum.  Westpoint:: all students study ancient battles, strategy and equipment and there might be interest in the period of armor wearing men in battle.”

63) “As Higgins has a collection second only to The Met, create a “sister” relationship with them to build awareness and promote both (the same way there are sister cities).”


64) When patrons come, ask if they are a member.  If they’re not, ask them if they would like to become one.


65) Jeremy Blaiklock is a professional videographer and is willing to shoot a 5-8 minute mini documentary about the Higgins Armory pro bono.  This could be used on something like Kickstarter.


66) Set up an account at a local bank that would accept pledges to Save the Higgins.


67) Hire a marketing director.


68) Donate a window.  Donate and get one of the upper gallery arches named for you.


69) Reach out to Sword Forum International.



7 thoughts on “Ideas

  1. Jane says:

    I like the idea about allowing architecture students design improvements for the museum as a contest. This would be an inexpensive way to get the plans.

    Auctioning items is fine, but how about renting a suit of armor for a day?

    I think many of these ideas are great ways of generating money; however, a professional fundraising firm is the most efficient alternative. Also, management of funds is crucial. Should transparency about funds be increased? Do membership costs need to be raised? If so, will visitors still pay?

    I also think that marketing is key for raising public awareness of the museum outside of Worcester to put it on the map for a visiting stop for people traveling THROUGH the city to another destination.

  2. Lisa Valeri says:

    I still really liked the idea that I heard of naming a wing in honor of a corporation or company that has agreed to become an annual endowment contributor. And I know we talked a lot about “greening” the museum, and it would be great to hear more ideas about this.

  3. Lauren says:

    Advertising is key! The armory runs lots if great events throughout the year. I tend to hear about them a day or two before on wsrs. Gingerbread making, Star Wars exhibit, and Beer tasting. All events that should attract a huge crowd if advertised. The first I ever heard of story time was the other day when I was browsing the website. Parents are always looking for different things to do. Sprea the word of what you have to offer!

  4. Brian says:

    Ask Lt. Gov. Tim Murray to speak with the Crowley family of Polar and Wachusett about donating/sponsoring the museum. Other local companies to approach include Hanover, Wachusett Brewing, FCHP, Unum, and Commerce Bank.

  5. Richard Johnson says:

    Development Ideas for Saving The Higgins Armory

    As a 32 year museum pro I’d gladly serve as a volunteer on a museum operations advisory committee to help save this precious museum.

    As regards development.

    First of all, I’d use the Boston Business Journal annual guide as a touchstone.

    Who are the best and most generous donors from the region? What companies have strong Worcester connections either by location or leadership?

    Which national and international companies use medieval imagery as part of their corporate identity?

    Secondly, I’d survey the massive marketplace that plumbs medieval and faux medieval themes as their bread and butter. King Richard’s Faire and Medieval Manor come to mind.
    Are they a national chain? The many Hollywood studios that use chivalric and heroic medieval stories as grist for their money mill.

    Are any of the moguls involved with these enterprises collectors of armor and related materials?

    Third, apart from the Worcester Art Museum are there institutional affiliation(s) that would help support the museum. I am thinking of a university based museum studies
    program akin to the Cooperstown program that sends undergraduate and graduate students to the museum to work on both management and curatorial projects.

    Lastly, here is a pot pourri of development ideas.

    *Naming rights for museum. Would the Higgins family and/or his will allow for a dual name for the museum. The (ADD NAME)-Higgins Armory. We live in an age of corporate sponsorship and Raytheon recently spent EIGHT figures on the sponsor name for The Hall at Patriot Place Presented by Raytheon.

    *The establishment of an honorary board called “The Round Table” that is comprised of donors and supporters from outside the region. Perhaps the first Round Table group is comprised of the fifteen individuals who pony up at least a million dollars apiece to set the endowment at a level that assures the museum be saved.

    We live in a world where people like Linda McMahon spend nearly
    $100 million on failed political campaigns. Ditto the expenditures of the Romneys and former Bain colleague Steve Pagliuca on their respective political campaigns.

    (It is clear that past Higgins boards have rarely ventured beyond Rt 495 or our state line for membership. This has contributed to the museum’s financial crisis)

    *The establishment of an annual fundraising gala, “A Night of Shining Armor” in which awards for community service are given to “Knights in Shining Armor.” Such Massachusetts nominees as Partners in Health leader Dr. Paul Farmer,
    Patriots owner Robert Kraft, former Jimmy Fund Executive Director Mike Andrews, among many others would be perfect honorees. Such international and national honorees
    as former Irish President Mary Robinson, US President Jimmy Carter and Hillary Clinton would do much to raise the profile of this precious museum.

    These are just a few of the steps I’d take towards trying to make a save rather than bidding a long goodbye to Barber Ave and all its glory.

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