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Financial Plan proposed for Oak Ridge museum
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 1, 2000 — The Department of Energy (DOE) has received a plan designed to provide long-term financial security for DOE's American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE). Submitted by UT-Battelle at DOE's request, the plan also calls for expanding the museum's role in preserving the history of Oak Ridge.
Opened in 1949 and located in downtown Oak Ridge, AMSE has been host to more than 8 million tourists and students. AMSE had been funded by the Department of Energy until October 1, when DOE eliminated some $1.2 million used to operate the museum.
UT-Battelle's plan recommends creating a five-year period of "bridge funding" for the museum during which the Department of Energy, each of DOE's three major Oak Ridge contractors, and the City of Oak Ridge would contribute to AMSE's operating budget. During this five-year period, the museum would create a 5-10 million dollar endowment that in future years would be used to supplement AMSE's funding.
The plan contains six major recommendations for consideration by the Department of Energy. The first, referred to in the report as the "cornerstone" recommendation, urges that DOE relinquish authority over AMSE's management policies and transfer ownership of the museum and adjacent property to the City of Oak Ridge. The plan stresses that DOE's willingness to turn over the museum is necessary to give AMSE the management flexibility needed to raise funds and cut costs.
Another recommendation would seek to preserve Oak Ridge's history and increase tourism by expanding the museum's focus on the city's contributions to America's victories in the Second World War and the Cold War. The plan recommends a fundraising campaign dedicated to telling the history of Oak Ridge by using AMSE as a repository for historical artifacts and documents.
The plan emphasizes that no single organization, including the City of Oak Ridge, should be expected to fund AMSE's budget. The plan also recommends steps to reduce the museum's current operating costs, including lowering utility bills, providing performance incentives, and closing the museum during periods of low visitation.
UT-Battelle officials drafted AMSE's financial plan after discussions with dozens of educators, business leaders, government officials and supporters of the museum.
UT-Battelle manages the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.