Wednesday Jun 29 2011
City: Please provide a good home for the Archives Museum
By: Carol Feineman, Editor
Know and Go: For more information on how to volunteer at the Lincoln Area Archives Museum, call 253-9972. City: Please provide a good home for the Archives Museum I’m a big fan of the Lincoln Area Archives Museum. That's why I've compromised my reputation by "singing" at the two annual Lincoln Got Talent fundraisers solely benefiting the nonprofit Archives. I've never sung publicly since a sorority member told me it would help our musical skit if I kept quiet and just mouthed the songs. That I don't have a singing voice is the reason I will only sing before my daughters and dogs. But, if I can be part of an effort to raise money for the bare-bone funded, all volunteer-run Archives Museum, I'll do whatever I can, even at the risk of embarrassing myself on stage. The Archives was started more than 20 years ago by Jerry Logan and Wes Freeman, according to Archives Museum volunteer executive director Shirley Russell. The museum was created a couple of years ago. I have a lot of respect for the 14 or so hard-working volunteers, who donate hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars to keep Lincoln history alive, by Russell’s estimations. “For instance, board member Gary Brockman has donated furniture and appliances to the collection and restores other pieces donated throughout the years,” Russell said. Mark Miller, the city of Lincoln’s public services director, also “gets” the importance of history. On Friday, Miller showed Lincoln Area Archives Museum representatives empty City Hall rooms on the third floor that the museum might temporarily call home, at City Council's discretion. The city must, at least temporarily, move the museum before asbestos is removed from throughout the Civic Auditorium. As of now, the Archives Museum relocation site is not known. After Friday's tour, Archives Museum president George Patterson told Miller that some city representatives did not appreciate what the museum means to the area. “It really helps a city see where it’s going if it knows where it has been in the past,” Miller said. And that’s what the Archives Museum does entirely as a volunteer nonprofit organization. Its’ purpose is to preserve the Lincoln area’s past for this generation and future generations. Patterson calls his organization's accomplishments a treasure because it shares Lincoln’s history from before the city even existed. “In the last two weeks, five to six people, including Realtors, were looking for particular homes,” Patterson said. “We have pictures of almost all the homes here, all the tax records for all property; we have almost all of Gladding, McBean payroll records. It goes on and on.” Unfortunately, the Archives Museum is not as well-known a local attraction as volunteers would like. That's a shame because volunteers work hard to keep the museum open five days a week. They want to share Lincoln-area history, from the pre-Gold Rush years to today. Museums are meant to be bustling with visitors. And more visitors to the museum means these visitors will see and then frequent nearby stores, restaurants, gas stations and service businesses, which boosts the city’s tax base. Other sites the city is considering temporarily moving the Archives Museum include the old City Hall/former Police Department headquarters and the Carnegie Library. The former police headquarters is Russell’s first choice. Besides being in a more visible and accessible location, according to Russell, the Archives Museum could then participate in community events on or next to Beermann’s Plaza. And staff in City Hall wouldn’t have to worry about their work areas being compromised by potential unwelcome visitors after hours and on weekends. But as Miller said during Friday’s tour of City Hall’s third-floor, where the Archives Museum is relocated to is City Council's decision. I hope all City Council members spend time next week at the Archives Museum before they vote on a new location. That way, the councilmen can see how valuable the asset is to Lincoln’s downtown. Russell is gracious about the council’s upcoming decision. “City Council has been so engrossed, and rightfully so, preparing the (city) budget,” Russell said. “There will now be time for City Council members to devote their thinking toward our new home.” The Archives Museum is currently open at 472 E St. from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Fridays and additional hours from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursdays. Besides visitors, volunteers are also welcome.