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RMAC approves plan to increase visitors, expand

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Caroline Brooks, executive director of the Roswell Museum and Art Center, says staff and others will work in coming months to implement the newly approved strategic plan. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The Roswell Museum and Art Center plans to upgrade some of its exhibits, increase visitor numbers, examine the possibility of charging admission fees and determine in more specific ways how to incorporate science into its exhibits and programs.

These are a few of the specific outcomes of the museum’s recent strategic planning process. The museum’s Board of Trustees voted Monday to adopt the 2017-20 plan that grew out of meetings starting in February and involved staff, trustees, the public and museum foundation members.
“The plan serves as a loose road map for the next three to four years,” said Executive Director Caroline Brooks. “It allows the Board of Trustees and staff to set a broad course for the projects we’ll plan to take on, but doesn’t limit us with too specific of information.”
Brooks said the city-owned museum now has 381 members and counted 29,992 visitors for the 2016-17 year ending June 30.
City online budget documents indicate that the museum earned revenues of $123,061 for the 2015-16 fiscal year ended June 30, 2016, for its classes, memberships, space rentals and store and art sales. Each year, the city provides a bit more than $1 million in funding for museum operations.

Boosting visitor numbers is part of the work the museum staff will begin implementing in the months ahead, Brooks said. That effort will involve improving the visibility of outdoor signage and the accessibility and appearance of interior spaces. Creating an interactive gallery for families to learn about aspects of exhibits in various ways is a goal, contingent on obtaining funding. The museum also plans to rework its Robert H. Goddard exhibit in the future.
Brooks said the museum staff also will begin discussing charging admission in late 2017 or 2018 as a way to boost revenues and decrease the amount of money the city subsidizes for museum operations. She said that a fee would take time and thought to implement, as well as approval of city officials.
“A part of the fee structure would mostly include free admission to members and potentially discounts or a ‘free day’ for Chaves County residents,” she said. “That being said, my philosophy is never to turn anyone away due to an inability to pay, so that is something that would be a part of the conversation.”
Another major goal of the plan involves enhancing ongoing efforts to develop educational programs and events for youth and adults.
The renovation of the planetarium to upgrade its projection system and refurbish its interior also is part of the effort to increase visitors and strengthen science integration into programs and educational outreach. According to museum documents, the planetarium will be closed in August and September for the necessary work.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.