In 2004, a storage room at the Bath House Cultural Center became the White Rock Lake Museum. Now, in 2022, the museum will be put into temporary storage. It’s a change that many of the museum’s supporters have fought against, but the fight must now shift from fighting to staying to ensure the museum returns stronger in a new location.
Change is difficult, but the museum is on city-owned land with no lease, and city officials believe it’s time the museum found another home. We agree that this is the right decision.
But it’s also important that the city quickly delivers on its promise to revitalize the museum in another building 5 minutes away at Doran Circle.
The first goal is to preserve the history of White Rock Lake in a place that is accessible to the people living around the lake. Exactly where that happens is secondary.
City officials are trying to argue that the promise stored in emails is sufficient insurance for the museum’s return in 2024. But we’re concerned, as are some museum directors. Fighting for something formal like a facelift agreement could hold city officials accountable from the very top if the city attorney and manager approve. Officials told us they would take the idea to the flagpole.
Museum directors are still struggling to stay in the Bath House, the museum’s original home. We understand why they fight. Members of the White Rock Lake Community came up with the idea of turning this storage unit into a place where the town’s past is even remembered. Days of work and planning went into transforming this space. They raised thousands to get the museum up and running. The place is her home in every way except legal.
But while we sympathize with the museum’s supporters, we have to agree with the city that there are more productive uses for the space that involve the public more actively. And where there are losses, there are also opportunities. If the community successfully sees these exhibits get out of storage and into the Doran Circle building, they could begin expanding their collections.
The Parks and Recreation Department ultimately wants to convert this building into the city’s first visitor center and has expressed interest in a partnership with the leaders of the White Rock Lake Museum, who built the museum 18 years ago through sheer strength and passion. A beautiful visitor center could emerge from the same energy.
And in the old museum rooms in the Badehaus, the city plans to offer programs such as art classes and dance performances. If all goes well, White Rock will have gained two thriving artistic, cultural and historical centers.
So, director of the White Rock Lake Museum, accept the city’s offer. Formulate the agreement. Then come back to the community strengthened.
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