Turtle Bay is a Cultural Gem That Needs Community Support

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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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13 Responses

  1. Avatar Janet Tyrrel says:

    Turtle Bay Exploration Park is our local “gold”. Thanks for summarizing how museums are financed.

  2. Avatar Virginia says:

    Has anyone checked the salaries of the “group” overseeing Turtle Bay. Be in for a big surprise.

    City can’t afford to pay out for Turtle Bay, with 300 plus million in unfunded pension liabilities!!!!

    Equating business only with “made to make money” is not very understanding of how businesses are run. There are many non-for profit businesses.

  3. Avatar Jan Gandy says:

    Sorry, Virginia. I was over-simplifying to conserve space. I assume people already know how many different businesses and non-profits are out there, but I didn’t have space to acknowledge them.

  4. AJacoby AJacoby says:

    Jan, thank you for educating many of the public that may not know the history of how wwnt into forming the Turtle Bay complex. As said above, it is truly a cultural treasure that our community needs to support.

  5. AJacoby AJacoby says:

    Ooops, need to edit my replies before I hit ‘send’.

    first sentence should read: “. . . of what went into. . . . “

  6. Avatar william Arnold says:

    The admission is very expensive…most locals and seniors cannot afford to take part in our wonderful museum … a different pricing structure would be very beneficial for people who live here and greater ticket sales for turtle bay..

    • Avatar Ron says:

      I agree William. I have been here before it was build and me and the family have still not been there due to the expense.

      Hope to go someday..

    • Avatar Megan Conn says:

      Hi William! I work at Turtle Bay, and we encourage locals to become members. A family membership ($80, which covers 2 adults and 4 kids) works out to less than $7 a month for year-round access – that’s less than the cost of one movie ticket. Also, there is membership pricing for seniors – ex: an individual senior membership is only $45 ($3.75 a month!)- and they get to bring in a free guest. Plus additional guests are half price, and memberships are also good at hundreds of other science museums and gardens.

      We also offer several free days each year, and many many discount days. These are often advertised on Facebook but also on the general website. Ex: Nickle and Dime Days (5th and 10th of every month) – adults $10 and kids/seniors $5. Also every Wednesday is senior day, only $6. Pricing is now all-inclusive (no exhibit upcharges).

  7. Avatar Frank Strazzarino says:

    Turtle Bay is an outstanding community amenity that deserves support. The Chamber has been an enthusiastic promoter since inception, and rightly so. Now, there is an opportunity to expand the resources, which is why we fully support Measure B. I am proud to also be an individual member of Turtle Bay. Frank Strazzarino, Chamber CEO

  8. Avatar Jan Gandy says:

    William — buy a year’s memberhip and go as often as you’d like. It’s a better deal. If the new hotel is built and Turtle Bay generates more income then they can hopefully lower entry fees. Has anyone realized the Arboretum is free now? They used to charge to walk down the trails.

  9. Avatar Boojum19 says:

    Agreed that if you are a local, the annual membership is the way to go. For me, it facilitates TB visits that are often somewhat spontaneous and can be long or short, with the goal of seeing just a few things or the whole place. Since the money is already paid, I don’t feel any obligation to rush around and see it all on any given visit.

    Random suggestion….change the name back to the original “Turtle Bay Museums and Arboretum on the River”. I think that is a better name – one that clearly indicates what is present and evokes a sense of place to boot. The “Exploration Park” idea is vague and I imagine potentially confusing to people driving on I-5 reading billboards. It is unclear and may give the impression that the facility is more of an amusement park or some sort of glorified playground than a museum complex. Who knows but that may also contribute to the seemingly popular notion among many locals that the complex should be a run as a profit-making enterprise.

  10. Avatar cheyenne says:

    I have one question that I have not seen answered. Will the new Turtle Bay hotel be a non-profit business not subject to the taxes a for-profit businesses pays?

  11. Avatar Former Magnolia Neighborhood Resident says:

    A Turtle Bay membership is a great deal! As a Turtle Bay Member, other museums often allow reciprocal free or reduced admission fees! I’ve enjoyed Fort Bragg’s Mendocino Botanical Gardens, Eugene, Oregon’s Museum of Natural History, Anchorage, Alaska’s Anchorage Museum, etc.etc. as a result. I’ve introduced many guests to Turtle Bay Museum, and several have purchased memberships. Thank you, Turtle Bay.

    Information on free admission dates at Turtle Bay need to be more widely publicized, though.