Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Museum Center in the black

But more money needed, officials say

By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        After cutting costs and scrounging for revenue since it opened in 1990, the Cincinnati Museum Center posted its first-ever surplus for the year ended June 30.

        But with $2.5 million a year in operating and maintenance costs on the old Union Terminal in Queensgate, the museum needs more public funding to continue to cover expenses, officials said Tuesday.

        The Titanic exhibit earned about half a million dollars last year, and no blockbuster is on the horizon this year, president and chief executive officer Douglass McDonald said.

        A record 1.45 million people visited the Museum Center, including 162,000 for Titanic.

        Only two years ago, the museum center lost $2.3 million and was looking at a bleak financial future. It cut about half a dozen employees and eliminated some exhibits.

        The $26,289 surplus is symptomatic of the business-first approach taken by many of Greater Cincinnati's cultural institutions.

        The museum opened in 1990 after a $68 million renovation.

        While it will continue to look for more savings, the long-term plan must include more public funds to take care of the half-million-square-foot building, officials said.

        Out of a $13.2 million budget, the museum center received about $30,000 from the city of Cincinnati, Mr. McDonald said.

        “The long-term solution is that we're going to need some assistance in preserving and operating that landmark,” said Valerie Newell, chairwoman of the museum's board of trustees.


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