by Victor Lopez
ODESSA--A year ago, the Presidential Museum in Odessa was in bad shape. They had to shut their doors due to a lack of funding.
But, this weekend, it's a different story. They're back in business with several activities planned for the 4th of July.
It's hard to believe, at this time last year, that the doors to this prestigious museum were getting ready to close, mainly because, they couldn't afford to keep them open. But thanks to a generous donation, visitors can once again hear a heartfelt greeting and see a motorized statue of General George Washington, "Welcoming you to the Presidential Museum."
According to Interim Director Charles Cotten, it's community support that makes it possible for The Presidential Museum to provide a gateway to history, especially when you consider how much it costs to do it.
"It takes about $150,000 a year, minimally, to keep the doors open for this museum. Without the community support, it would be very difficult to continue," Cotten explained.
According to Cotten, a generous donation made it possible for them to re-open the doors in February and should keep them open for a while, "We'll be able to continue through 2010 and then, it is the expectation that he will offer additional support for the 2011 year."
When the financial problems started last year, the museum turned to their partner and landlord, UTPB for help, but certain laws don't allow state funds provided to the university to fund anything else.
"Public money from the legislature that has been proportioned to the university cannot be used to run a museum, unfortunately. So, we have to look at ways that we can raise the funds necessary from the community and private sources," Cotten said.
Since last year, the museum has reached out their hand to public entities like the school district, the city and the county.
"It's still ongoing. So far we have not been able to get any support from any of the entities mentioned," Cotten commented.
People who haven't visited the museum lately will be treated to several new displays. And just for the July 4th weekend, a copy of the 1848 copper plate printing of the original Declaration of Independence and the unveiling of the official portrait of President Barack Obama.
Cotten says they can't do it alone and the community needs to step up and do their part, "This is a very unique part of the cultural scene as well as the educational scene, as far as Odessa is concerned."
The Presidential Museum will be open on Sunday from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00p.m. in celebration of the July 4th holiday.
Admission on the 4th will be free to the public.