Recession kills Chapel Hill Museum, threatens others

The municipal museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is the latest victim of the recession. It closed its doors on Sunday after 14 years in operation. The town council had only earmarked $20,000 for the museum in the 2011 budget, far short of the $49,000 it needed to stay open.

The Chapel Hill Museum explored the history and culture of this prosperous university town with displays on early settlers, desegregation, works from local artists, and a popular fire engine from 1914. More than 15,000 people visited the museum every year and it was a regular destination for school groups.

With budgets getting cut across the country, the Chapel Hill Museum may be the canary in the coal mine for cultural organizations. The Battleship New Jersey was recently saved from a budget cut, but a nearby children’s garden had to reduce its hours after getting less funding than it needed. Numerous parks and historic sites in New York also face closure.

Photo courtesy Siera Heavner via Wikimedia Commons.