Donation to pay for new children's museum director

Sept. 28, 2012 at 4:28 a.m.
Updated Sept. 29, 2012 at 4:29 a.m.

The Children's Discovery Museum of the Golden Crescent is searching for a new executive director to lead the center back to stability.

The funding for the director's salary came from an anonymous donation announced Friday by board members.

The need for a director comes at a pivotal time for the museum, while board members are in search of a possible new location.

In August, museum board members learned that their 10-year agreement with the Junior League of Victoria was ending. The center had leased the building for only $1 a year.

In August, the League told museum board members they could either start paying rent, move or buy the building for about $300,000, said museum co-founder and board member LeOlive Rogge.

Museum board member Betty Jo Elder said news reports this week of the museum's possible displacement roused significant public interest in the museum.

"A generous anonymous donation has made it possible to initiate an immediate search for a new director," Elder said.

At a members' meeting Wednesday evening, the League set a Nov. 15 deadline of receiving offers from those interested in purchasing the Kreisle Building, home to the museum, and adjacent lot.

"The Junior League has been very generous to offer us this space for no rent," said Penni Gietz, a member of both the League and the museum's advisory board.

Board members emphasized on Friday that the museum will reopen. Although closed until the end of the year, the museum already has two new exhibits on order for the reopening, they said. The new additions are "Bright Lights," an interactive lights display, and electronic check-out stations for "Mercado," the grocery store exhibit at the museum.

During the reorganization period, memberships will be extended for any time the center is closed, they said.

The museum is still booking private parties and plans to host a few fundraising events.

"The museum is not going away," Gietz said.

Board members estimated an annual budget of $150,000 for payroll, maintenance and operations. Any rent would be an additional expense.

Board members said they hope to find a director with museum experience and business background to meet their marketing and fundraising needs.

Sammie Sue Hendrix, a former member who rejoined the museum's board a few weeks ago, said the museum hopes to work with the Victoria Main Street Program and remain downtown.

The program is part of the Texas Historical Commission, which seeks to revitalize the historic downtown and neighborhood commercial districts.

"The museum belongs at the heart of the city," said museum board treasurer and Life Point Church pastor Les Cole. "That way we can be surrounded by the greatness of the past and newness of the future."



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