$4M requested for historical museum
Facility would be open year-round, include interactive displays.
By Sarah Lison, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
July 21, 2010
Valley schoolchildren can’t go on field trips to the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum because the current facility isn’t open when they’re in classes.
The building at Deloney Avenue and Glenwood Street that houses the museum is so old it cannot be heated or air conditioned. That’s why it’s open only from late May to mid-September.
Many of the society’s best artifacts can’t be stored there because of temperature variations, and staff have to move many displays out of the museum each winter because they can’t endure extremes.
If voters approve a $4 million request for specific purpose excise tax money in August, all of that will change, said Gary Hughes, development director for the society and museum.
The money would allow the society to open an education center and display on artifact conservation as early as August at the new Museum of Jackson Hole at 225 N. Cache St. Next summer, the first 2,500 square feet of exhibition space would open and the society would continue developing the second part of museum, Hughes said.
The museum is expected to be a total of 5,000 square feet of space and could be open in two to three years, he said.
The museum project is one of 11 seeking a total of $38 million in tax revenue from the 1 percent sales tax. That sum would take three to five years to collect, as the tax generates about $9 million to $10 million annually.
The optional sales tax is levied on most goods purchased within the county other than food. One consultant has estimated that visitors pay 40 percent of the tax.
The 1 cent of SPET is 16 percent of the 6-cent sales tax imposed on most goods and services in the county.
The new facility would be temperature-controlled, have security and all other considerations expected at a museum. It also would be open year-round, Hughes said.
“That’s very important for us, because right now we can’t bring the kids in from school during their term because the museum is closed,” he said.
The first part of the museum would feature exhibits on various aspects of valley life. Displays would include photos, videos and audio recordings from figures such as rancher and former U.S. Sen. Cliff Hansen talking about experiences in early Jackson Hole, Hughes said.
A children’s interactive area will feature a replica of a school bus on a sleigh with a stove inside that was used to keep kids warm in the winter. Children who visit the area also will be able to rope a steer, collect fake eggs from chickens, dress in period costume and more.
Voters approved the society’s request for $3 million request in SPET money in 2006, allowing the society to purchase and remodel the building at 225 N. Cache St. The building’s top floor currently houses the Nikai Sushi restaurant, which has a lease through 2014, Hughes said.
Plans in 2006 were to use some of the money to fabricate some exhibits in new museum, but construction crews discovered structural issues during remodeling work, Hughes said. Ultimately, $1.1 million was used to buy the building and $1.9 million went into the remodeling work, he said.
To watch a video about the new museum and its seven themes, go to www.jacksonholehistory.org.