SPENCER, N.C. – As determined by the 2011-2012 General Assembly state budget, which became law this week, the N.C. Transportation Museum will transition to a self-funded operation beginning July 1, 2011. The change is being made in light of current economic conditions combined with the viability of this State Historic Site to generate revenues needed to operate.
Museum Executive Director Elizabeth Smith says, “The museum stands at a crossroad that may offer opportunities to continue its growth and maintain its valuable contribution to the region.”
The museum will continue to be a vital part of the Department of Cultural Resources, Division of State Historic Sites and Properties. It will be administered, as is currently the case, by the museum director with the assistance of Division leadership. The museum staff will continue to be employees of the State of North Carolina. The most obvious change to the public will be the implementation of an admission charge to visit the site.
Admission fees will be $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and active military and $6 for children 3-12, all of which include the popular on site train ride. Children 2 and under can always visit the museum and ride the train at no charge.
“Our effort has been to find a balance between raising the needed funds for museum operation, while minimizing the impact for our visitors. We think we have done just that,” said Public Information Officer Mark Brown. “The admission charge represents a very nominal increase from what visitors have been paying for the on-site train ride for a number of years,” he said.
Previously, the N.C. Transportation Museum’s operating costs were funded through the state budget, at $1.2 million annually. The transition will keep the facility open, operational, and telling the story of the history of transportation in North Carolina.
July 1 marks the beginning of a two-year period of transition. The museum will raise half of its operational costs the first fiscal year of 2011-2012 and the full amount in fiscal 2012-2013. The historic site will still qualify for any available state construction (CI) and repair and renovation (R&R) funding from the state of North Carolina.
The museum will be structured as an “enterprise fund,” raising needed revenue through admission charges, special events, site rentals and other sources. Operational costs will be funded directly from those monies collected. The USS Battleship North Carolina successfully operates under a similar structure since its inception as a State Historic Site.
The N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation will continue to be a valuable partner, raising funds for renovation, special events and other needs at the museum. The Foundation will also continue to operate the train ride and the museum’s gift shop, the Gift Station.
Another partnership that will continue is the contribution of the many museum volunteers who serve in rail operations, historical interpreters of the museum collection, and those who maintain and renovate rail equipment, automobiles and aviation equipment for display and operation.
Smith is confident in the museum’s success in the days ahead. “The dedicated staff and our large group of volunteers will be the reason we will succeed in this new endeavor,” she says.
The N.C. Transportation Museum is located in historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway repair facility. It is located just five minutes off I-85 at Exit 79 in Spencer, N.C., and about an hour from Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston-Salem.
The museum is part of the Division of Historic Sites and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Visit www.nctrans.org for more information. For information on the Department of Cultural Resources, call (919) 807-7385 or visit www.ncculture.com.
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