Archive for Wednesday, November 15, 1989


November 15, 1989


The Kansas All-Sports Hall of Fame is scrambling to find a new home, following the Douglas County Historical Society's decision to ask the hall of fame to move out of the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum.

Max Falkenstein, chairman of the hall of fame board, said the group will contact the governor and key state legislators to try to find both a new home and increased funding for the sports hall.

A report by the American Associations of Museums offering recommendations on the future of Watkins Museum prompted the decision to ask the hall of fame to vacate by the end of 1990. The hall of fame has been located on the first floor of the museum since 1972.

The evaluation of the museum, prepared by William Galvani, a consultant with AAM, included a recommendation that the hall of fame be moved out of the museum. The report was financed by a $1,400 grant from the AAM intended to help with the museum's long-range planning.

"THE KANSAS Sports Hall of Fame does not relate to the mission of the WCM and constitutes an intrusion in the museum," the report said. "It occupies valuable exhibit space which is more flexible and could be used more productively than that in the remainder of the museum."

The report also said the hall of fame is "an unusual burden to WCM," and describes the sports exhibits as "static, outdated, and overbuilt."

Falkenstein said there had been some discussion about moving the hall of fame even before word came of the Douglas County Historical Society request. He added, however, that the hall of fame trustees were surprised by the historical society's decision.

Falkenstein also said the Kansas All-Sports Hall of Fame is bound by several legislative restrictions. For instance, state law says that the hall of fame should be in Douglas County. The board of trustees, he said, also must seek legislative approval of its plans to change the name of the hall to the State of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

FALKENSTEIN said there has been some discussion of moving the hall of fame to the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka, because it is under the auspices of the Kansas State Historical Society.

But, he said, the historical society has voiced some concerns with this, saying that other groups might want to move too.

"They say they want our relationship clarified also," he said. "They want to know if they put the Sports Hall of Fame there, are they also required to put the Agriculture Hall of Fame or the Greyhound Racers Hall of Fame there," he said.

Part of the problem of having the hall of fame in the local museum is the space it takes up, and part of the problem is financial, said Steve Jansen, museum director who also is executive secretary of the hall of fame.

JANSEN SAID the museum could "live up to the community museum aspect" by using the first floor for county-wide exhibits.

The Watkins Museum operates, Jansen said, on a budget of about $78,000 a year, with a little less than half of that coming from a county mill levy. The hall of fame has not paid anything for using the space in the museum until this year, when the museum received a payment of $2,000, Jansen said.

"That's one small payment for use of the whole first floor," he said.

Falkenstein said the hall of fame has been operating off the interest from of a one-time surcharge put on state college sports tickets in 1986. He said the 25-cent surcharge brought in about $230,000, and provides about $18,000 a year interest to operate the hall of fame.

"We're very limited," he said.

JANSEN ADDED that since the Douglas County Historical Society voted to give the Sports Hall of Fame until the end of 1990 to move, there is plenty of time to discuss where the sports hall of fame should be located.

In his report, Galvani praised the restored bank building that houses the Watkins Museum and the "small but excellent" museum staff. Other strengths he noted were the museum's active board of directors, its outstanding textile conservation facility and the contributions of museum volunteers.

AMONG GALVANI'S other recommendations for Watkins Museum were:

Seeking a paid staff member or volunteer to act as collections manager at the museum.

Obtaining the services of an exhibit consultant to review the museum's permanent exhibits and assist the staff in developing plans for temporary exhibits. He also recommended that the staff obtain additional training in exhibit design and planning.

Developing a basic professional reference library for staff use.

Studying the possibility of establishing a museum store to supplement the museum's operating budget.

Enlarging the museum collection of artifacts and establishing a purchase for the acquisition of exceptionally important county artifacts.

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