Museum Boards Meet to Discuss Depot Plans – HJ’s Response

Today’s Joplin Globe reported that the Joplin Museum and Historical Society boards met to discuss the Gryphon Building and Union Depot as potential locations for the Joplin Museum Complex. Both boards voted against a proposal to purchase the newly renovated Gryphon Building. The cost of the Gryphon Building was far too high for the museum.

Joplin Museum Complex Director Brad Belk then discussed the Union Depot. After noting, “It is better laid out than the current museum location” he claimed the size of the depot is smaller than the current museum facility and that it has water issues in the basement.

Gee.

The depot is almost one hundred years old and has been sitting empty since the 1970s. With no windows, no doors, and no maintenance, it’s not surprising that it has a few issues. At least one architect and one contractor have expressed their opinion that the structure is sound and built to last.

It seems Belk and the museum/society boards are dragging their feet when there is a golden opportunity before them. They could be heroes! Imagine — revitalizing the Union Depot, a beautiful structure that stands on the site of the lead strike that led to Joplin’s very existence — and helping anchor and rehabilitate north downtown Joplin. Instead, they are letting a few puddles of water and space concerns constrain them.

Look into the water issue. Talk to architects about the cost and design of an addition to the current structure that would bring needed additional space that would, at the same time,  preserve the architectural integrity of the depot. The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City managed to do this.

Now, we realize that the museum complex is poor as a church mouse and that its board members are unable and/or unwilling to cough up a significant amount of funds needed to bring in a renown architect and build a modern addition like the Nelson-Atkins. That isn’t necessary. What is necessary is that the boards and Belk seize this opportunity. A local architect can be found who can create a tasteful and aesthetically pleasing addition.

They have no concept of vision. But, then again, it seems that the museum and society boards are populated by good old boys who know very little about museums and historic preservation.

Why not look into Mark Rohr’s proposals of grants and other funding methods to make the dream come true? It certainly would be better to try and fail in this case rather than just sit and do nothing but complain and grumble.

Let’s face it.

In April the voters declined to support the museum’s pathetic takeover of Memorial Hall. Memorial Hall is over. Move on. Move on to what people are actually voicing support for. Museum attendance across the nation has been declining for years. Either you march into the future or you wait to be swept up into the dustbin of history and irrelevance.

What will it be?

In memory of the feisty Joplin Globe and News-Herald editors of yesteryear who never failed to express their opinion whether popular or not.

Historic Joplin - Support the Union  Depot Proposal

Don't Let The Museum Board Balk at A New Home!

Renovated Union Depot Proposed Home For Museum

At last night’s City Council meeting, City Manager Mark Rohr proposed that the Union Depot be renovated to be used as a new home for the Joplin Museum Complex. As covered by the Joplin Globe, Rohr believes that existing sources of funding exist and as a result, no new taxes would be required for the project.

Joplin Union Depot

The Joplin Union Depot not long after it was opened. A great future home for the Joplin Museum Complex.

We, here at Historic Joplin, strongly support this proposal.  We hope that it becomes reality and that someday in the near future, we can walk in and enjoy a beautifully restored depot.  Even though the Carnegie Library appears not to have been part of the new plan, we hope it too has a bright future.

Joplin Carnegie Library

The Joplin Carnegie Library as it appears in 2010.

The Museum Issue May Rise Again

On Saturday, July 3, the Joplin Globe spoke with City Manager, Mark Rohr, about an announcement he will give on Tuesday, July 6.  Rohr was responsible for the planning behind the revitalization of the Sunshine Lamp district in 2005.  It was implied in the article that remaining elements of the 2005 plan may be addressed, those being the restoration and use of the neglected Union Depot, the currently privately owned Carnegie Library, and the Rains building.  It was in that plan that the Museum Complex was to theoretically be moved to the depot.

Historic Joplin supported this solution to the museum problem back in April and certainly continue to support it.  The depot is one of the city’s last remaining architectural beauties and there need not be any further Connor travesties by allowing it to fall to pieces or purposely tear it down.

For a two part history of Joplin’s Carnegie Library, click here and here.