U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith Fights for Funding

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Mar. 4, 2013 12:00 am  

“You’ll sit in that space, looking out over the river, and the light filters down through the star, reflecting on the water,” Rowland said. “It’s really pretty elegant.”

There will also be space for temporary exhibits, a couple of theater spaces, a courtroom, a museum store, a cafe and a lobby area for events.

One-Two Punch

Rice, at Parks & Tourism, said the museum “really offers a one-two punch for west-central Arkansas.”

He said its proximity to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, which registered more than half a million visitors in its first year, would especially bolster the area.

In 2009, a study estimated the economic impact of the Marshals Museum. Then, the museum was expected to see about 115,000 visitors annually and have a payroll impact of about $1 million per year.

“We are actually looking to update that probably this year,” Hayes said, “especially because we can now factor in what the impacts that Crystal Bridges will have as well, seeing as how they’ve had outstanding visitation numbers. We really feel like the Marshals Museum, Crystal Bridges and the Clinton Library will help drive visitors from one place to the other. When we factor in some museums in Oklahoma, even in Memphis, it’s really a corridor of phenomenal educational institutions.”

“We’re excited the museum is coming to Arkansas,” said Rucker, at the Arkansas Museums Association. “It’s something with a story that needs telling, and Fort Smith is a great place to tell that story. Given the size of the museum and the amount of money, it’s right up there with the largest museums in the state.”

Rucker said the museum would also help job seekers with museum credentials to stay in the state. “Finding jobs in museums in the community is a difficult task,” he said. “Many have to leave the state to get started.”

“Fort Smith has long had the reputation of a fascinating Western town,” said Rice. “It’s had a lot of attention and notoriety, and the museum further positions Fort Smith as a unique destination in and of its own right.”



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