Our Western Heritage

Our Western Heritage
Front Street, Dodge City, circa 1879

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Future use of public tax funds; Why Not Museum!

Next steps being discussed for sales tax money through CFAB committee, et al., include having a second event center to replace and expand the 4-H type facility as we currently have next to Wright Park, Dodge City, KS -- to be built east of the race track (with Great Western Trail, Rath Trail and Custer Trail head end area protected; other projects no doubt are being thought about by all involved.

Also on the table, supported by a group of good people and groups, is building a world-class small archive and museum exhibit building -- an actual county museum. An archive, of course, that has a very protected, secured and controlled environment. It has to be different than just a display area. It has to be new. The city-owned corner that T.M. Deal Lumber was on -- from Spruce to Vine along 3rd Street, a half block from Boot Hill Museum -- would be one great location.

The exhibit area, by being a controlled and planned area, could benefit from national and state traveling exhibits, keeping costs lower. It would not compete with the very defined area of coverage at Boot Hill Museum. It would allow some of the costs and museum professional burdens of protecting the large collection at Boot Hill that is not on exhibit to be shared -- and their archive to be protected in a current best practice.

It would add coverage with selected areas -- Santa Fe Depot, Fred Harvey, the Mexican Village, Racing, WWI troop movements, Dust Bowl, WWII Army Air Base, Great Arkansas Flood, the beef industry -- perhaps 5 - 6 nice exhibit areas that could add and rotate in these and related very popular history subject areas.

It would benefit from the possible and discussed combination with the wonderful archive and library at the Kansas Heritage Center. The space there limits additional collections. Staff combination would lower the cost to already existing staff position in both Boot Hill Museum and the Kansas Heritage Center. The massive volunteer time of groups and persons already being invested could more easy continue and expand, with professionals at hand.

It would allow the proper storage and protection of boxes of documents now stored, with some in banks. Some of these are among the most unique Old West original documents and research that exist. More outstanding items would more easily be donated to a facility with this level of care being guaranteed to the donors.

Without taking more space, those of us involved in this discussion can assure you that this combination of these archives -- without changes of ownership for the non-profit groups -- into one proper space, along with a few very well done exhibits and national level traveling exhibits -- would become and remain a necessary visit from any serious student or tourist of the American West.

Signed: Uncle George

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