Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Council mulls change in museum lease

Historical Society could partner with Community Library

Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society operates the Ski & Heritage Museum in Forest Service Park in Ketchum. Photo by staff files

    Members of the Ketchum City Council all agreed on Monday that they are open to allowing the Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society to transfer its lease to The Community Library.
    The potential lease transfer would be made in order to provide the museums in Forest Service Park with more favorable lease terms, and to help the Historical Society manage its financial issues.
    “The board has discussed difficulties we’ve had with managing our museums and funding,” said Heather Daves, Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society president of the board. “Recently, we’ve been working with The Community Library to start looking at ways the museums could grow, have better management, structure and fundraising.”
    Daves said the board is facing some tough decisions, and it is looking at researching with the library how management could shift to help the museum and bring better opportunities to the community.
    “A lot of this hinges on the lease, and whether the city will honor the same lease with another organization without any changes to the mission, programming, just the management,” she said.
    Daves said the Ski & Heritage Museum in Forest Service Park has had significantly fewer visitors this year. In a memo produced by Ketchum Community Development and Economic Director Lisa Horowitz, she said, “These museums exhibit our long tradition as a destination ski town, our pioneer history, and history of local skiing. The museum features exhibits on Hemingway, the history of Sun Valley Resort and a Ski Hall of Fame.”
    Museum Director Taylor Pasley said both the library and the Historical Society have a great deal in common, but wanted to gauge the support from the council before moving forward with a partnership.
    “Before we invest substantial time and resources into this relationship, it would be great to have the affirmation in principle from the council that they’re open to considering this lease transfer,” Pasley said.
    Each member of the council said they would be interested in looking into a transfer of the lease, as it could provide a great opportunity to revive the museums.
    “From my perspective, working with the Historical Society and the museum, it’s been a struggle to find the revenue stream,” Mayor Randy Hall said. “As I see it, this is a great opportunity. The potential from this partnership is endless, or you’ll have to close your doors, or find new dedicated revenue. We have to make sure there’s enough partnership to keep you guys breathing.”
    Councilman Michael David said the partnership appears to be a good fit, while council President Baird Gourlay called it a “perfect marriage.”
    “This would be a nice way to see the library change,” Councilwoman and Mayor-elect Nina Jonas said. “I see this as a great synthesis and connection between the two organizations.”
    After the meeting, Hall said he hopes the City Council will look further into the transfer of the lease.
    “I think the city is definitely interested in giving a favorable lease,” Hall said. “It would be a shame to let this opportunity pass by.”
Eric Avissar:

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