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Cape Fear Museum could face budget cuts

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We've been telling you all week about how much money the Cameron Art Museum says it needs to stay open. The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science is feeling a tightening financial pinch as well.

Museum director Ruth Haas says if you cut back too much, the museum is basically going to lose a lot of its quality and credibility. "Quality of life is very important to this community and it costs money," she says.

The Cape Fear Museum on Market St. is home to 50,000 artifacts, like Michael Jordan's UNC basketball jersey. Each one requires conservation and care, which costs money. In fact, it takes about $1.8 million a year to keep things running.

Bringing an exhibit to a museum costs a lot more than you might think, like the exhibit they're bringing into the museum next month. It's going to be here for the next 20 years, but to bring it here, rent it, and maintain it, is going to cost about $500,000.

The county runs the museum and is $14 million in the red. So to cut costs, it's floated the idea of the museum operating only two days a week.

"I looked at the budget the other day and played around with numbers and I pulled something like $800,000 out so you could have a two day a week operation. Is it a good operation? No, it's not. It's not a pretty scenario," says Haas.

It doesn't sound pretty. She says if that happens you can expect to say goodbye to free Sundays, free field trips, and bet you'd be looking at the same exhibits over and over again because they wouldn't be able to afford to bring in any new ones. They froze two positions last year. The full timers would be next to go.

"It's not just whether you're funded by the county or whether you're funded by private. We're all in this together to make sure we have a community that is known for its quality of life in five years, just as it's been known for its quality of life up to this point," says Haas.

The Cape Fear Museum is one of the only professionally accredited museums in Southeastern North Carolina, by the Association for American Museums.

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