Although the National Frontier Trails Museum may be deeply rooted in telling stories of the past, one of its biggest goals for the upcoming year involves a modern technology.

Although the National Frontier Trails Museum may be deeply rooted in telling stories of the past, one of its biggest goals for the upcoming year involves a modern technology.

Like many bricks and mortar retailers today, the museum’s gift store experiences fluctuating sales, and so the 22-year-old Independence museum is aiming to strength its online sales presence.

Admission revenue has continued on a steady, upward trend since the National Frontier Trails Museum opened in 1990, with projections of $54,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.

However, store sale revenues have dropped off in recent years, some of which is because of online purchases rather than store shopping, said David Aamodt, the museum’s administrator and curator, in a recent presentation to the City Council. Sales are projected at $27,000 in the gift shop for 2012-13.

A link for the online museum store is available through the Trails Museum portion of the city’s main website,

“We are trying to work with Technology Services to increase the functionality and exposure of our online store to bring that number back in line,” Aamodt said.

The 2011-12 fiscal year marked one of change for the museum with the retirement of longtime director John Mark Lambertson in December, who had held the role for 19 years.

Instead of a new director, those roles and responsibilities are divided between Aamodt and Richard Edwards, the museum’s education and special events coordinator.

The museum’s largest operating expense remains personnel ($226,641 or roughly 71 percent of its budget). The museum includes four full-time employees, and the responsibilities of a fifth full-time position are divided among five part-time employees.

In the next fiscal year, the museum will continue working with city departments and stakeholders on redevelopment of the museum complex, as well as supporting fundraising efforts for its redevelopment.

Museum officials also plan to begin a certification process with the American Association for State and Local History’s Standards and Excellence Program.

The National Frontier Trails Museum is the only museum in the United States certified by the National Park Service to interpret five U.S. national historic trails – Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, California, Santa Fe and Lewis and Clark.

The museum also “is literally the public face of Independence to the world,” Aamodt said.

In the past year, 48 percent of the museum’s visitors came from across the United States and other countries. The remaining 52 percent of visitors were from area schools and from across the greater Kansas City region.

“Every year, without fail, we have visitors from all 50 of the United States,” Aamodt said, adding that citizens from 31 countries visited the museum in the past year alone.

Accomplishments at the museum in the past year, Aamodt said, include the development of a museum master plan; curriculum-based tours for all second and fourth graders within the Independence School District, for the third year; conducting the eighth Teacher’s Institute and in-service training for teachers’ professional development; increasing the volunteer base by 33 percent compared to the previous year; and expanding the museum’s social media exposure and online store selections, among other achievements.

Museum staff also began replacing the gallery lighting system, which is “an essential element that will need to continue,” Aamodt said.

“Museum lighting is not traditional lighting,” he said. “Museum lights are carefully selected because light is the most damaging element to artifacts. New federal regulations prohibiting the manufacture of certain types of light have already started to go into effect and are on a graduated schedule over the next few years.

“Replacement with qualifying bulbs is extremely expensive, so we are trying to get ahead of the curve and address this in a responsible manner.”