When the local North Carolina Museum of Forestry board met with officials from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Wednesday, they thought they had a deal that would turn the facility into a satellite museum.
The Senate budget, however, dashed those hopes and didn’t include funding for the museum. A vote could be taken to finalize the Senate budget as soon as tonight (Friday).
“We got zeroed out,” said board chairman Butch Blanchard. “For the past six months, we’ve been trying to find a level of support for the museum and we thought we’d found it. We had a good meeting Wednesday, but when the Senate budget came out the next day, we weren’t in it.”
Blanchard said NCMNS officials had told them to stop raising money for a primary forestry exhibit several months ago with the inference that the museum might be closed, so the board began efforts to seek a compromise.
That compromise would entail the local museum becoming a “branch education center,” Blanchard said, with a smaller staff and fewer expenses.
The local branch, it was hoped, would attract quality exhibits as part of the larger NCMNS and still be a vibrant museum, perhaps even more so than it had been in the past.
“We called Raleigh and the folks we met with assured us they didn’t know this was coming, that they wouldn’t have scheduled the meeting if they’d have known,” Blanchard added.
The board hopes to get the museum funded in the House budget, Blanchard said. The Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Tourism sent an email Friday to rally support for the museum.
See more in Monday’s News Reporter.