City to Take over Raleigh City Museum

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Starting July 1, the Raleigh City Museum will be operated by the City of Raleigh.

For the past 19 years, the Raleigh City Museum has been run by a nonprofit organization that not only handled the day-to-day operations, but also fundraising and artifact acquisition for the exhibits. Most of the museum’s $303,000 operating budget came from a $157,500 grant provided by the city.

The money will continue to be allocated to the museum, but city staff will take over museum operations.

Photo by Orionpozo.

Museum operations manager Dianne Davidian said that the most successful city museums are run by local governments through the library or parks and recreation departments. In the case of the Raleigh City Museum, it would be run by Parks and Rec.

The museum take-over isn’t a surprise. Davidian said it has been part of the organization’s strategic plan for the past 10 years.

Troy Burton, the site manager for Mordecai Historic Park, said that the city will focus on running the museum – such as paying the electric bills and monitoring payroll – while the nonprofit group will be tasked with continuing fundraising efforts and growing the museum’s collection.

“It gets them out of the day-to-day management,” said Burton, adding that the partnership will give the museum the potential to do things that up until now have only been dreams.

The city will also take over the lease for the museum’s physical location on the first floor and in the basement of the Briggs Hardware Building on Fayetteville Street. The lease for the building is $65,000 a year with a 2 percent increase each year.

The museum is a 20 percent owner of the building.

The museum ended up in financial trouble in early 2011 when it found itself in a $30,000 budget shortfall caused by a faulty air conditioner and a rental vacancy in the building.

It requested, and was granted, an additional $15,000 from the city in March 2011.

The museum is one of many historical locations and museums that are run by the city, including the Mordecai Historic Park, the Pope House, the Tucker House, the Fred Fletcher Amphitheater and the Raleigh Trolley.

Overall, the city owns and manages about 15,000 historical objects. The collection at the Raleigh City Museum will be transferred to the city, adding to that number.

The city will officially take over the museum on July 1 and Burton said that it’s likely that the museum will be closed for a short period of time while the transition takes place.

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