Thursday night, June 3 at 7 p.m., the York City Council will decide the future of the Anna Bemis Palmer Museum. A resolution is scheduled to be presented to the Council, to move the museum from the Community Center into the basement of the auditorium. If it passes, the weight room will be moved into the space the museum has occupied since 1966.
Anna Bemis Palmer died in 1962, leaving the bulk of her estate to establish a permanent museum in downtown York – about $1.4 million today if adjusted for inflation. It was the largest single donation towards the construction of the Community Center, according to The York Daily News-Times, with Anna’s estate contributing 44.5% of the total cost of the Community Center building. Yes, she contributed almost half of the cost of the entire Community Center, not just the museum area. As a comparison, they reported the second largest donor contributed 13.2% of the costs.
Anna’s dream of a permanent museum became a reality, but it is now at risk. The auditorium presents known risks to the museum collection (mold, on-going long term water issues, lighting), some of the most popular pieces in the museum are too tall to fit, and access to the museum would be limited and the hours drastically reduced.
This move, according to the Council President, would also come with an estimated $500,000 price tag over and above the renovations already completed at the auditorium. And renovations currently underway in the museum area of the Community Center, changes chosen specifically to improve the museum’s environment, will be for naught if the museum space is converted into a weight room.
So why move the museum? Why replace the museum space with a weight room? The answer: so the space currently used as a weight room on the lower level of the Community Center can be used for programs designed for school age children (grades 1-12).
I have no issue with expanding the recreation programs for the students. There were dozens of programs for students in the past and I think we should always encourage their participation - even in the museum. One of my highest priorities at the museum has been to make changes based on how a fourth grader would view or understand the displays. They are required to study Nebraska history - I want them to learn our local history – their heritage too!
I think there are several ways the recreation and museum areas can co-exist within the Community Center, without banishing the museum to the auditorium’s basement.
How can you help? Let the City Council know how you feel! Many have told me they don’t have a voice in what happens in York, you’ve tried before and no one listened, so why even try. But unless you try, you definitely will not have a voice.
• Attend the Council meeting (June 3 at 7 p.m.). The entrance is on the north side of the municipal building at 100 E 4th Street between Lincoln and Grant Avenue.
• Email me at email@example.com no later than 3 p.m. on Thursday (June 3), and I will see it reaches the City Council members.
• Post a comment on the Our Story: York County, Nebraska Facebook page before 3 p.m. on Thursday at https://www.facebook.com/groups/226138778524130 and I will see it reaches the City Council.
• Email one or all of the City Council members directly, but please copy me (firstname.lastname@example.org) prior to 3 p.m. on Thursday. I will hand deliver it to the Council members in case they have not read their email that day.
Nancy Beach, York