Editorial: State forced to shutter museum because of the cold
BY World's Editorials Writers
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
11/28/12 at 3:28 AM
Historical agency leaders had to make the difficult decision recently to close the State Capital Publishing Museum building in Guthrie because there wasn't $150,000 on hand to replace the aging boiler that was the source of the building's heat.
What is this, the 1920s? One of the state's most interesting and unusual museums has to be shut down because winter's a-comin' and there's no money to heat the place?
The Guthrie museum, one of the first structures in the state to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, is owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society, a state agency and private membership organization. It is operated by the Logan County Historical Society through an affiliate program.
The closure comes at a time when considerable hand-wringing is occurring over the deteriorating conditions of the state Capitol building, which is literally crumbling. On the inside, world-famous artwork is fading away because of the intense, unfiltered sunlight coming through the dome.
Officials first explored the less-costly possibility of repairing the boiler but determined it could not be repaired.
The building was built in 1902 to become the fourth home of the State Capital Co., which was organized in 1889 just before the first land run. The fascinating collection details the history of printing in the state and some other aspects of territorial life and early statehood.
Because of declining funding for such state functions as operating museums, the Logan County Historical Society became involved in the operations a few years ago. Under the affiliate program, the state historical agency covers some expenses. But the cost of the boiler was beyond the ability of either agency to provide.
Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, is among those hoping the museum reopens soon and can even be transformed someday into a living history museum, with ongoing printing activities.
But having suffered a cutback of its funding amounting to 28 percent over the past four years, museum upgrades don't seem likely any time soon. The society has managed to increase its own revenue generation at some of its museum sites, but not at the publishing museum.
It's a darn shame that a state with a history as rich as Oklahoma's can't manage to come up with the money to keep museum doors open.
Original Print Headline: Darn shame