Turtle Bay is a Cultural Gem That Needs Community Support

In response to Michael Czehatowski’s recent letter to the editor (Redding Record Searchlight – Oct. 17) which asked why Turtle Bay can’t be run like a business, a couple of things need explanation.

A business is a for- profit entity. The owners’ reason for starting and continuing the business is to make money for themselves. As such they pay income taxes.

A museum is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to maintain collections and educate the public.

Turtle Bay is run by a Board of Directors/Trustees who have been given the responsibility of running and maintaining the museum as a non-profit educational organization. Any monies (profits) made must be put back into the institution by way of salaries, acquisitions, building and ground maintenance, and educational programs and exhibits.

Museums have always been funded, at least partially, by the cities and counties in which they reside. They were seen as valuable to the culture of the community and as institutions providing a public trust.

Then budget cutbacks forced museums to become more self-sustaining.

Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a group of museums that came together to share costs, attempt to be more self-sufficient and better educate the public. The Redding Museum – now Turtle Bay – has a vast collection of Native American baskets, the best in the state and one of the best in the country, as well as an art collection and a collection of historic artifacts. The Lumber Museum part of Turtle Bay houses another collection of historic artifacts. The Carter House Natural Science Museum part of Turtle Bay encompasses the Redding Arboretum, a collection of plants, and the collection of native animals.

All of these collections must be maintained. Some must be kept in temperature controlled environments. All need care, constant up-keep and sometimes repair. That requires a big staff.

The museums have been entrusted by members of the community to keep in perpetuity the items donated to these collections. These items can only be used for display and/or to educate the public.

Museums also may add to the collections by purchasing items that the board thinks will increase the educational value of the collection. To maintain a 501(c)3 status as a non-tax paying institution, the museum park must receive most of its income through admissions, memberships, donations, fundraisers and grants.

To maintain its statement of purpose to educate and to draw an audience it brings in new exhibits, more animals, the butterfly house and the parrot playground. The museum store does operate as a business but still tries to sell articles that enhance the museum’s educational purpose.

When my husband worked in a group of local physicians, I was often asked to show the wives of prospective new doctors around town in an effort to encourage them to come to Redding. They didn’t ask me if we had a Costco or how many successful businesses there were. They asked me if we had music and theater venues and museums. They were interested in what the community could offer their families culturally. The beauty of the area and the lure of the outdoors were evident.

When the three museums agreed to combine into Turtle Bay, the hope was that the new museum complex would educate the local community and people from out-of-town to the history, culture, and natural resources of this beautiful area so that it could be enjoyed, respected and maintained into the future.

Please support your museum by voting Yes on Measure B.

Jan Gandy lives in Palo Cedro

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