Western museum hinges on campaign - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Western museum hinges on campaign

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Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:02 am | Updated: 2:42 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The first Western museum in Scottsdale — and only the ninth in the nation — could become a reality in 2009 if stakeholders can muster up $350,000 over the next 18 months.

That’s how much money and time it will take to get a campaign under way as part of an effort to garner public and financial support for a stateof-the-art Western museum in downtown Scottsdale.

“We wouldn’t be coming to you with this project if we weren’t encouraged by the work,” said Scottsdale Cultural Council president Frank Jacobson, whose group of cultural managers will spearhead the campaign.

Jacobson made those comments to the Scottsdale City Council on Monday night moments after council got its first look at a new vision for such a museum, along with the hard dollar figures behind making that vision a reality.

City officials and stakeholders have been trying since 2002 to establish a Western museum in downtown Scottsdale. Two concepts for such a museum failed to take root.

Jacobson has said this would be the last time the Cultural Council would pursue plans for a Western museum.

This latest effort, touted as “Where the Old West meets New West,” is the most ambitious attempt.

The concept is at least twice the size and cost of past plans.

A multilevel 42,000-squarefoot museum would come with a $34.3 million price tag. It would feature high-tech, interactive educational displays and Western artifacts.

The concept would be on par with such museums as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Illinois.

Scottsdale’s Western museum would be designed to appeal to Valley residents, winter visitors and to schools as a history learning venue.

“The next 12 to 18 months will be the most important for raising funds from a small core of donors to start a (public relations) campaign to increase awareness,” said Bob Bailey, vice president of AMS Planning and Research Corp., the California-based consulting firm hired to do the feasibility study.

Council members’ responses to the new vision were positive.

“This looks like what a lot of people are looking for in downtown Scottsdale . . . everybody has a strong desire for something that is worldclass,” said Councilman Kevin Osterman.

The city has earmarked $7.5 million and the land for the proposed museum. The rest would come from private donors.

AMS presented its 46-page report to the council at the meeting. Among its conclusions: The museum would join only eight other such museums in the nation to comprise a “Western coalition” of museums.

The proposed Scottsdale museum would compete with six other museums in the Valley, according to the report. Major museums in the Valley typically attract between 250,000 to 300,000 visitors annually, the report stated.

The annual operating costs are estimated at $3.2 million and would be offset by admission fees, rentals, special events, contributions and fundraisers, the report stated. Admission fees would range from $3 to $10 per person.

If stakeholders are able to move forward with their plans, the Cultural Council would begin its search for a museum director, the report stated. The museum could be finished and operating by September 2009, according to the report.

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