The White Rock Lake Museum asked to leave the Bath House Cultural Center

White Rock Lake Museum at Bath House cultural centre. Photo by Renee Umsted.

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story. Check regularly The lawyer for updates.

The City of Dallas Department of Arts and Culture has asked the White Rock Lake Museum to leave its place at the Bath House Cultural Center.

Intended as a permanent gift to the community, the museum has been housed in a converted storage room in the bathhouse since 2004. It contains photos and informational texts displayed on museum panels, as well as some objects.

The space for the museum was rented for $1 a year. Leases were signed throughout through 2017, when the museum was asked to vacate the premises. The board eventually signed a new lease with the city.

The lawyer reported the news in 2017, with a statement from the museum’s board of directors:

“We have reached an agreement of reconciliation and compromise by dealing with that [Office of Arts and Culture, at the time Office of Cultural Affairs] I would like the museum to be updated and agreed to enter into a lease until December 2018 with the proviso that the White Rock Lake Museum can remain intact in its original form while a White Rock Lake interpretive site is developed.

Jennifer Scripps, the director of the Department of Arts and Culture, says the city now wants to use the space for other programs such as art workshops, art exhibitions and other “vibrant, active programs.”

The museum, which Scripps said was dearly loved by the community, has not had an opportunity to renew its lease at the bathhouse, and the Department of Arts and Culture has proposed splitting the exhibit and placing it in two nearby public libraries.

But Krista de la Harpe, the president and curator of the White Rock Lake Museum, says the exhibit, which tells the lake’s history, is cohesive, must stay with the lake, and shouldn’t be disconnected.

The museum board has until March 25 to respond to the city’s proposal to move the exhibit to the libraries or the plaques will be moved to the Dallas Municipal Archives.

Prior to February 22, when De la Harpe was notified that the museum would be moving out of the bathhouse, she had met with District 9 City Council member Paula Blackmon and District 9 Parks and Recreation Committee member Maria Hasbany , met. They wanted de la Harpe to consider moving the exhibit to the Sunset Bay building.

De la Harpe says she visited the site and did not consider it a suitable alternative due to the historical structure and its peculiarities.

In a March 1 statement, the museum committee said it would consider other locations for the exhibit based on four requirements: location at White Rock Lake; Suitability for the displays, with space for art exhibitions; a sustainable plan for providing access and security for the museum; and postponing the move pending a plan to ensure the museum’s long-term survival in the new location.

This topic is expected to be discussed at the March 8 White Rock Lake Task Force meeting. We will continue to follow this story.

White Rock Lake Museum at Bath House cultural centre. Photos by Renee Umsted.

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