Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Museum Musings - Part 3

"Is the University's Museum (Brandeis University) Just a Rose to be plucked", reads a WSJ column dated 2/3/09." Endowments had plunged $1,700,000 at the end of 2008. After reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about the closing of the Rose Art Museum, I wondered how many other museums had been forced to close their doors recently. In less than 20 minutes online I found the following:
Fort Wayne, IN---Lincoln Museum, closed June 30, 2008. The Lincoln Museum, which has hosted an exhibit on the Lincoln Highway, closed June 30, 2008, after 80 years as a major resource for the study of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. It is operated by Lincoln Financial Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Lincoln Financial Group. The foundation owns one of the most extensive collections of Abraham Lincoln-related items — 230,000 items valued at $20 million — including a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and one of 13 Thirteenth Amendments signed by Abraham Lincoln. The museum cites declining attendance, averaging 40,000 per year, according to an article in The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne.

Waltham, MA--- In the name of economic hardship Brandeis University announced Monday it will close its Rose Art Museum and sell off its collection. An internationally renown museum, the 8,000 object collection includes work by such contemporary stars as Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, and Nan Goldin, and Post-War masters including Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Nam June Paik. Closing the universities budget deficit, which is said to be upwards of 10 million dollars was cited as the rationale behind the decision.

Milwaukee, WI---America’s Black Holocaust Museum, the popular but financially struggling institution on Milwaukee’s north side, was slated to close June 30, 2008 because it can’t afford to keep its remaining staff. The 20-year-old museum was started in the basement of James Cameron, who survived a lynching in 1930 in Indiana. Cameron made it a lifelong mission to teach others about the historical struggles of blacks in America, from slavery to the present. His museum is the first to commemorate and memorialize victims of lynching. Jackson said the museum remains popular. The exhibits draw about 25,000 patrons a year, and attendance swells during Black History Month and during the school year when students take field trips. About 400 people have memberships, and Milwaukee visitors from around the world come through the museum's doors, he said. But the museum has always relied on foundation support, and it doesn't have an endowment. Foundation funding has dried up since Cameron died in 2006 and as the economy has slowed.

Lexington, KY---The University of Kentucky Basketball Museum in Lexington has closed its doors (July, 2008), according to media reports in Kentucky. The museum, which was located in the Lexington Center adjacent to Rupp Arena, can no longer support itself financially, executive director Van Florence said. According to its Web site, the museum featured interactive exhibits giving fans the chance to make a radio call of a great UK moment, or play "virtual one-on-one" hoops against a favorite Wildcat. Consultants had told the original staff that the museum would bring in 130,000 visitors in its first year and average 110,000 visitors yearly thereafter, Florence said, according to the Courier-Journal. Instead, it drew 27,000 visitors in 1999 and averaged about 18,000 visitors yearly. The museum, which is separate from the university and its athletics association, owed more than $3 million to eight banks that funded its creation, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. Mullens said he understood that the banks that made those loans are willing to waive $2 million of the debt, but want the remaining $1 million by June 30. The university will assume $1.2 million of that debt and will pay $100,000 a year to pay it off, Mullens said. The University had contributed $100,000 yearly to defray the museum's operating costs.

Erie, PA---Marx Toy Museum in Erie, Pennsylvania, will be closing its doors forever on April 13 (2008). Problems cited in the article include a lack of money from the city, and the rarified ages of the volunteers who run the place.

Orchard Park, NY---Pedaling History Bicycle Museum, in Orchard Park, New York, features one of the world's largest collections of antique and classic American bicycles, including thousands of items of cycling-related memorabilia. From the antiques through the classics to modern bikes: social, design, manufacturing, marketing, and sports aspects are all reflected in our displays. The Pedaling History Bicycle Museum will close its doors soon in 2009.

Chicago, IL---The McCormick Freedom Museum will close its location on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue and instead takes its displays on the road.
The $10 million museum opened in April 2006 to help visitors understand freedoms with a special focus on the First Amendment.
Museum officials say they have hosted 200,000 visitors over three years. They say 100,000 of those visitors came last year after they dropped the $5 admission fee.,0,4556662.story

Cedar Rapids, IA---The organization's board announced Wednesday it will close the McLeod/Busse IMAX Dome Theatre on Jan. 20, 2008.
The board said attendance has been declining, the theater was losing money and changes in the IMAX industry would make it even harder for the theater to succeed in the future.
"The board and staff made every effort to make the theater work, but ultimately we had to make this very difficult decision," said Dan Thies, president of the board. "The theater has not been profitable in recent years, and we can no longer afford to subsidize it at the expense of our core mission."
The announcement comes 15 months after Science Station officials threatened to close the Science Station and IMAX at 427 First St. SE because of its $1.3 million debt. Adults, children, area businesses and schools rallied and raised more than enough to keep the hands-on science facility open.


I'm hoping you can make good use of this information. I'd say it flies in the face of the museum backer's rosy outlook.

Thanks again for being such an important voice on this issue.


Anne Contratto

1 comment:

Common Sense Dude said...


I not only want to thank you for all your efforts on this blog to present us facts and information regarding the un-needed spending towards the proposed Peoria Riverfront Museum, but for also voting a resounding "no" for the sales tax referendum to be placed on April's ballot.

The projections they come up with for the museum change so many times, I cannot even keep up. and each time, it is most difficult to believe. I look at the track record of other developments over the years (Civic Center, ball park, Riverplex, Midtown, etc) and it does not instill me with a lot of confidence. Thank you for the honesty and common sense. Keep up the great work!