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July 2, 2015

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4 of 7 Nevada state museums targeted for closure

Nevada Southern Railway Museum (6-12-2009)

The Nevada Southern Railway Museum in Boulder City continues to roll along, despite state budget cuts. Launch slideshow »

Four of seven Nevada state museums, including the flagship Nevada Historical Society in Reno, are targeted for closure Aug. 1 because of the state's historic budget crisis.

With a projected deficit of $1.1 billion to $3 billion, the state also plans to shut down the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City, the East Ely Railroad Depot and the Lost City Museum in Overton, said Peter Barton, acting administrator of the state Division of Museums and History.

Plans call for the Nevada state museums in Carson City and Las Vegas and the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City to remain open.

"We recognize the extreme financial crisis the state finds itself in," Barton told The Associated Press. "One would hope that there would be other solutions offered, but at this point we are moving forward with plans to mothball four museums next summer."

Nevada's plight isn't unique as the sluggish economy hits museums hard from coast to coast, forcing boosts in admission fees and cuts in budgets and staff.

But only Illinois and Delaware have seen such extensive closures, and they were only temporary, said Dewey Blanton, spokesman for the American Association of Museums based in Washington, D.C. Nevada officials are hoping their museums can eventually reopen, too.

"It's among the most drastic retrenchments we've heard of in the country," Blanton said of the planned Nevada closures. "Because of the recession, Nevada's history is becoming inaccessible."

Nevada faces its worst budget climate in decades, and incoming Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is refusing to raise taxes. He calls tax hikes the worst thing the state could do during a recession. Nevada leads the nation in home foreclosures and bankruptcies, and has the highest unemployment rate at 14.2 percent.

Sandoval has been crafting a plan that would trim 10 percent from state agencies and could extend furloughs for public employees. But those and other cuts would still leave a more than $1 billion shortfall, according to the state's Economic Forum, an independent panel of experts.

Still, Sandoval realizes the importance of museums and will do his best to keep them open, said Heidi Gansert, his chief of staff. She noted Sandoval senior adviser Dale Erquiaga oversaw the museums as director of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs.

"It's premature to say what's going to happen because we haven't finalized the budget," Gansert said. "We can't say whether they'll stay open or not."

Leaders of a statewide petition drive have gathered 4,000 to 5,000 signatures so far in an effort to keep them open, said Dan Markoff, a Las Vegas lawyer and member of the state Board of Museums and History.

Museum budgets have already been slashed by 50 percent to $3.4 million since July 2008, far more than any other state agency, he said. Museums not only serve educational and research functions, but generate millions of dollars in tourism, he added.

"The response to the petition is an incredible showing that the people of Nevada want the crown jewels of history to be preserved," said Markoff, a Republican. "The budget burden has been on museums to an unconscionable degree."

Patty Cafferata, former Nevada state treasurer, said she could not have authored six books on Nevada history without documents and photographs at the Nevada Historical Society in Reno. Founded in 1904, it's Nevada's oldest museum.

"Not that I would want to see the others closed, but I think the historical society should certainly be spared," Cafferata said. "There's no other place where you can find those materials. It would be a real tragedy to close it."

Despite the push to reduce the scope of government to core functions, Barton thinks the state can justify keeping the museums open because they're investments that contribute to local economies.

He said the railroad museum in Carson City, for instance, gets a state appropriation of roughly $600,000 a year but contributes $1.9 million a year to the community.

"We're at the point where programs are barely able to survive," Barton said. "The program gets so thin it implodes, and that's what we're up with museums right now."



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  1. Good idear...
    These dangnab museums are nothing but warehouses for old junk! And an excuse for people to edge you kate themselves!

  2. @gmag39:

    How many railroad museums does the state need?

  3. Blanton has a vested interest in touting museums. His paycheck depends on them. As for "preserving" history, when was that ever a big deal in NV? They implode 35-year-old buildings here with little thought or concern. The only history they are truly interested is those with pictures of dead presidents on them. Want to keep the museums open? Set up ticket offices at the front door and see just how many are willing to pay to get in and see history. Patty Cafferata laments there is "no other places you can go to find those materials." Hey, Patty, ever hear of the Internet? There is more info, pictures & text, about NV history on the Internet than you could read about in a lifetime. And the best part? It's free to anyone with a computer, connectivity and time to spare. Another plus? Many needn't even leave the house to access it and that is good for the environment. Log on Google and punch in Nevada History and get educated.

  4. lvfacts101

    Sure, you can go on the internet to research history, but to see actual documents, artifacts, etc., you need a museum. Ever see in the Declaration of Independence in person? Or the Magna Carta on which our system of government is based? Considering Nevada does have a history, starting way before the Civil War and that the territory was instrumental in the growth of the country going west in the early 1800's, a Historical Museum would be interesting. Not all NV history started with Bugsy Siegel! But I don't see that ever happening. That Mob Museum would have been a good place to start to show the residents of Southern Nevada that yes, Nevada's history goes back before Al Capone was born. At least they didn't tear down that old post office building and they are using it for something.

  5. @Det_Munch:

    To what history do you refer? Nevada over the past 300 years has served mostly as a place between where people were and where they wanted to go. A geographic inconvenience or in the case of Vegas, a place to water the train.

    There is quite a bit of natural history, but very little cultural history. (Let's face it Virginia City doesn't clean up as well as the Founding Fathers do).

  6. It is a real travesty to hear that the East Ely Railroad Depot will be closed. It is easy to say that half the tourists or visitors who come to White Pine County will make a stop there, for history and entertainment.

    Much of the museum's operations are done by volunteers, many of whom drive to Ely from distances of 150 miles or more and add to the local economy themselves. Local clubs help provide the entertainment, as the train robbers, who donate their time and horses for the fun of it all.

    To shut this train musuem down, will have a far reaching effect on the local economy (which counts on the trains running as a draw for tourists-just check the Chamber of Commerce and the White Pine Convention Center): hotels and motels get filled, restuarants stay open, gas stations continue their products and services, Parks & Recreation link their events with visiting the train depot, and even the local brothels get a few more visitors. Businesses that supply other goods and services get the extra traffic thanks to the train depot/museum as well.

    Other than the East Ely Train Depot, visiting the lone movie house, bowling alley, yearly county fair, and go hunting or go fishing,there is not much reason to be in White Pine County, other than just passing through. Living there presents its own problems unless you are a member in good standing with a predominant church. Just witness the locals bickering on the Ely News discussion boards, and you will get the drift. Being an outsider there, means you forever are thought of and are treated as one, and only are useful when you have money they can take, otherwise, no money, no nice. Get out.

    I suppose they can move the train museum to the Ely State Prison and provide double tours, raising revenue more efficiently. Something to think about.

  7. N CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
    The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  8. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

  9. For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

    For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

    He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

    He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

  10. We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. -- And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

    -- John Hancock

    New Hampshire:
    Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

    John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

    Rhode Island:
    Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

    Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

    New York:
    William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

    New Jersey:
    Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

    Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

    Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

    Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

    George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

    North Carolina:
    William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

    South Carolina:
    Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

    Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

  11. To Turrialba - It is amazing that you would make such an uninformed and obviously uneducated statement like the one below. If you studied Nevada History or visited the states museums you would have a better understanding of its cultural richness and diversity.

    To learn more about the museums in the State of Nevada please visit

    "There is quite a bit of natural history, but very little cultural history. (Let's face it Virginia City doesn't clean up as well as the Founding Fathers do)."

  12. Of course politicians do not understand the ripple effect of their actions.

    Create a new law and you get three or four new taxpayer paid offices and support staff buildings. Then count those as jobs created that will stimulate the economy.

    Close a museum and you only lose a few jobs and kill a local market that kills many more taxpaying jobs, close supporting businesses and lowers property taxes. Then call that a savings.

  13. Just give these museums to the local Counties, Cities, Or Towns to take care of. Thereby saving these heritage collections and it won't cost the state a thing. Back in the 1970's Las Vegas gave Floyd Lamb Park/ Tule Springs to the State, due to a budget crunch. Now years later, Las Vegas has bought it back.

  14. Idea #2: give these places to Lonnie Hammergren, to keep all this stuff, while he makes a profit in showing his collection and Nevada's Culture everyday.

  15. Brian writes--

    "It is amazing that you would make such an uninformed and obviously uneducated statement like the one below. If you studied Nevada History or visited the states museums you would have a better understanding of its cultural richness and diversity."

    How so Brian? (maybe my eastern liberal elitist bias is showing, but how many railroad museums does one state need? Don't confuse old with historic.

    PS-@Det_Munch The Declaration of Independence read just fine on-line (few penmanship issues)

  16. Come on folks--can't someone make the case to keep the museums funded?

    Right now gmag and Brian are the only ones sticking up for the museums.

    I am a little surprised and more than a bit disappointed.

  17. I guess Nevada is getting what it deserves. A new mega casino and some closed museums. Each of us is responsible for standing by and letting one industry dominate this state. What well informed, educated person would build an economy based on such a narrow field? Maybe if MGM could put slot machines and some table games inside the museums, the state would come up with the money to keep them open. Let's face the truth. The people running this state are not as smart or talented or as resourceful as they led us to believe.

  18. Nevada has never prided itself on culture. Which explains why the whorehouse museum(s) are not closing.