On-campus museum struggles financially – Low funds result in program, hour cuts

Lori Allen/The News Zach Garnett, sophomore from Hopkinsville, Ky., browses through the American History exhibit in Wrather Museum. The museum is open Monday through Saturday.
Lori Allen/The News Zach Garnett, sophomore from Hopkinsville, Ky., browses through the American History exhibit in Wrather Museum. The museum is open Monday through Saturday.

Lori Allen/The News
Zach Garnett, sophomore from Hopkinsville, Ky., browses through the American History exhibit in Wrather Museum. The museum is open Monday through Saturday.

Tucked next to the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business is Wrather Museum, a building of historical importance to Murray State, and one that has seen better days.

The museum offers learning opportunities to the young and old and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1975, but funding for the building’s upkeep has fallen by the wayside.

A quick glance around the entrance of the building reveals chipping handrail paint, deteriorating drywall and rusted door frames, a sight that does not compare to the value of history Wrather holds.

Lisa Hanberry, director of Wrather Museum, said the museum is visited by many students and holds multiple events that are free to schedule, but may soon not be to help maintain funding.

“My boss, Adam Murray, is going to try to work on some kind of contract for future events, maybe next year, of getting a fee charged similar to what the Curris Center charges because right now we have no funds to have a cleanup whenever the events are in here,” Hanberry said.

Hanberry said she and her student workers are often left to clean after events, and she sometimes requests the help from the event’s coordinator.

Wrather has had multiple events since Hanberry became director in July, including a daycare graduation and a wedding. The most recent event was Crazy in Love, which was an exhibit about warning signs of domestic abuse and was hosted by the Women’s Center.

The building is also used for weekly meetings and large public speaking lectures during the week.

The museum has three floors, all containing various exhibits to explore, ranging from War and Remembrance to Music History. Recently, one exhibit titled “Window on the World” was updated to display 40 framed copies of famous art, such as Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange.

While the museum has been struggling financially, Hanberry has maintained visitation with students and community members to share Wrather’s history.

“We’re working with local schools around the area to recruit them for tours and having professors bring their students in for tours during the day,” she said. “I’m gathering an email listing of professors that teach music or history and Calloway and Murray have a contact person that I’m reaching out to in order to send these emails.”

Students on campus have utilized Wrather to hold various events including sorority and fraternity initiations and the annual Miss Black and Gold pageant.

While these events are important, Hanberry said she believes students can learn important information about Murray State’s history by exploring the exhibits and said there is something for everybody.

The building will not be torn down similarly to Ordway Hall because of its placement on the National Register of Historic Places, but donations are always accepted to help maintain the facility and clean up.

Hanberry and student workers do depend on organizations around campus to maintain visitation and help, but the history is what really matters to those at Wrather.

“We’re having to depend on the departments and sororities and fraternities to help me get things back in order because we don’t have enough man power to get it all straight,” Hanberry said. “We want to preserve the history.”

The museum has been appreciated by students who have visited in the past, including sophomore Brittany Boling, who has toured the exhibits before.

Said Boling: “It’s a great place for history and it’s so old but it’s a nice environment.”

 

Story by Mary Bradley, Staff writer