The original volunteer Arts and Museum Advisory Board members arranged exhibits, trained docents and managed museum business until a part-time director was hired in 1985. In 1989, the position became full time. A part-time educational assistant was added in 1993.
The City of Poplar Bluff contributes nearly half of the museum budget, with the rest coming from the museum's fund-raising organization, the Friends of the MHAM, and grants from the Missouri Arts Council.
In 1995, the advisory board recommended the city purchase property behind the museum with funds remaining from the Harwell estate. The property at 417 Lester Street is a children's education center for the museum.