Mesa museum staying open through 2010 - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa museum staying open through 2010

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Posted: Saturday, March 13, 2010 2:21 pm | Updated: 3:56 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

History buffs in Mesa have gotten a reprieve. The Mesa Historical Museum will stay open at least for the rest of this year despite plans that it would soon close because of a funding shortfall.

History buffs in Mesa have gotten a reprieve.

The Mesa Historical Museum will stay open at least for the rest of this year despite plans that it would soon close because of a funding shortfall.

It’s open five days a week now but could have some days shaved off when the summer months see a dip in attendance.

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No decision has been made yet, but officials know they have funds to keep welcoming the public, said Vic Linoff, the chairman of the museum’s board of directors.

“I’m confident the museum will open three days a week for the rest of the year,” Linoff said.

The museum was set to close at the end of 2009 because of low attendance and a drop in fundraising because of the recession. Museum officials feared they would only have the funds to open perhaps once a month or even once a year, though the Mesa Historical Society would still own and maintain the collection.

But Linoff said volunteers, staff cuts and some assistance from the city to maintain some of the property have allowed the museum to operate through 2010. One boost came from higher ticket sales at the annual downtown historic home tour in January, which is a major fundraiser for the museum.

The museum could shift from being open Tuesday through Saturday to a Thursday through Saturday schedule in May or June, Linoff said.

Mesa is working with the museum to find a new home that would attract more patrons and likely make it more financially viable. The current location at 2345 N. Horne is in the agricultural Lehi area and too far off the beaten path to be successful, Linoff said.

Mesa is studying whether the former Federal Building in downtown would make for a better location, as well as how much it would cost to renovate the site.

The museum already moved its most popular exhibit to downtown in February, setting up Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience in the Arizona Museum for Youth. Also, small exhibits are placed at Mesa Public Libraries.

In the meantime, the museum is considering new exhibits or improvements to keep patrons coming, Linoff said. Also, the staff is more carefully cataloging its collection so someday it can be better preserved and displayed in a new home.

Linoff emphasized that even if the museum has to close to regular public access at some point before a new facility can be opened, none of it will go away.

“It’s important for everybody to know that the collection is secure and has a future,” he said.

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