Options discussed to keep Central Nevada Museum open


The clock is ticking on the Central Nevada Museum in Tonopah as it faces the prospect of only having enough money to stay open with its current hours and staffing through Feb. 18, officials said last week.

As this week got underway, museum leadership was looking at a variety of options to keep the museum going in its current form until at least the start of the 2018 budget year that begins this July 1.

The short-term options include reduced staffing, seeking funds from the Central Nevada Historical Society and approaching the Tonopah Town Board for help in paying the museum’s utility bills. Those bills run about $1,000 a month.

Longer-term efforts could include finding a benefactor to support the museum, continuing to search for grants, charging visitors for admission and for research, and approaching for financial help other counties, besides Nye, that make up Central Nevada.

Earlier this winter, Goldfield resident Allen Metscher, president of the Central Nevada Historical Society and advisory board chairman, said he was “deeply concerned” about the prospect of the museum having to close.

In an interview after the advisory board meeting Jan. 31, Metscher expressed similar concerns but said efforts were continuing.

“I can’t give a definite answer because it all depends on what type of financing we can get for the heat bill and a curator of some type,” he said.

“We’re hoping to keep it” open after Feb. 18, Metscher said. “This is a top-of-the-line museum. There’s no doubt about it. Just look at the evaluations people give it alone.”

Seeking solutions

Though the museum is allocated $45,000 in the current 2016-17 Nye County government budget, officials said that alone would not be enough to carry the museum beyond Feb. 18 and through June 30, the end of the current budget year.

“A lot of people have been sending donations already,” Metscher said. “Nationwide, people have utilized it, and sent $100 here, $50 there. It’s appreciated, but it’s Band-Aids.

“We’d like to find a benefactor who won a large lottery ticket and would devote it toward the Central Nevada Museum,” Metscher said. “That would be nice.”

The museum, a Tonopah tourist attraction, opened in 1981, though efforts to start it date back to the late 1970s.

Metscher said that he and his wife Valerie have been volunteering on Saturdays at the museum for much of the last year to keep the place open. That’s because a part-time helper position on Saturdays was cut through previous budget reductions.

Though relying more on volunteers is another option mentioned, Metscher spoke of the significance of the museum maintaining its professional staffing that features a curator.

“It’s very important to have somebody here that does know history, is familiar with the research library just simply because of all the use it gets,” Metscher said.

“We found out years ago during the 35 years of operation that just volunteers totally is just not feasible for a museum of this caliber,” he said.

Meanwhile, former 12-year Tonopah Town Board member Cindy Kaminski, also part of the museum’s advisory board, has worked behind the scenes to assist with budget-status issues with the county.

Kaminski in an interview said she was “not” hopeful about the museum’s future.

“That’s why I’m saying that I’m hoping maybe we can find somebody,” she said of the museum attracting a benefactor who might at least fund the museum’s professional employee.

“The last thing we want to do is close this museum,” Kaminski added. “That is definitely terrible.”

A CLOSER LOOK

■ The Central Nevada Museum was founded in 1981 by the Central Nevada Historical Society.

■ Construction was financed through a grant from the Fleischmann Foundation of Reno.

■ The museum is operated under the direction of the Central Nevada Historical Society and Nye County.

SOURCE: museum website

Contact reporter David Jacobs at djacobs@tonopahtimes.com