Archive for Monday, December 1, 2008

State’s budget woes putting historical artifacts at risk

December 1, 2008


— State budget problems are not only threatening present-day services, but also historical Kansas artifacts.

The system that keeps the air humidified in the Kansas Museum of History’s collections area has been broken since April and needs to be replaced, officials said.

“The system is not functioning,” said Terry Marmet, director of facilities and historic sites for the State Historical Society.

Normally, during the winter, heating months, officials ran the humidifying system to protect thousands of artifacts, such as the State Constitution, battle flags, furnishings, weapons, and numerous documents and clothing.

But with no system in place now, officials say they are closely monitoring whether the lack of moisture will damage the artifacts.

“We’re hopeful that one year won’t damage things that much,” Marmet said. Anything that appears to be deteriorating can be moved to a humidified research area, he said.

At a recent committee meeting, legislators seemed concerned about the problem, but acknowledged the state is facing significant budget problems.

“We’re all in this together,” said state Rep. Joe Humerickhouse, R-Osage City.

Under a new state revenue estimate, lawmakers face a $137 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year, and if nothing is done, a $1 billion shortfall in the next year.

Putting in a new humidifying system will cost about $476,000.

“It’s a major project for us, and goes to the core of what we do, which is acquire and protect our Kansas history,” Marmet said.

Under a proposal by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ budget office, the project could be funded over two fiscal years through general state revenues, emergency funds from the historical agency and fees paid by visitors to the state’s historical sites.

Before going forward with the project, Marmet said officials must wait to see if the Legislature agrees with that approach. Lawmakers return for the 2009 legislative session in January.


Danimal 9 years, 5 months ago

In all fairness, and as a life-long KS resident and former volunteer for state archaeological digs, is there really that much history to preserve?

Keith 9 years, 5 months ago

“We’re all in this together,” said state Rep. Joe Humerickhouse, R-Osage City.He also said "if the women don't find you handsome, then they better find you handy"

nut_case 9 years, 5 months ago humidifier - $26.00 - Problem solved. Even if it took 1,000 of these humidifiers to do the job, that is still only $26K

billbodiggens 9 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, folks. But the artifacts are nothing compaired to the legislature's need for a multi million dollar parking garage. Got to give them some place to park for three months of every year. The artifacts have simply been around too long and besides that, they don't vote.

sourpuss 9 years, 5 months ago

Danimal: YES!! Kansas is an enormously important place for historical research from the early dinosaurs to the present! Besides, no matter how much or how little "history" there is, once it is gone, it is gone forever. We must protect this collection!

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