RRS and Kay Goodwin took a group from the Legislature on a tour of the Cultural Center yesterday, showing them around the Archives library and storage areas. Lots of phrases were tossed around like “Many folks think this is an absolute done process, but we’re at the beginning” (Goodwin) and “proposal to relocate the archives library and install a café/gift shop in its space…is merely one possibility” (paraphrase from RRS) and “consultants who helped design…recommended adding the amenities for visitors” (paraphrase RRS).

Look, let’s get things straight. There has always been a plan for a gift shop for the museum, they want to be able to sell junk to kids. That’s a good idea, all museums do it, and all kids want to take home a reasonably-priced souvenir. (Ask the Clay Center what turns over fastest in its gift shop.) The craft shop that used to be in that space was never intended to supplement the museum, it was part of Norman Fagan’s efforts to assist WV artists. It lost a lot of money. Sadly, a gift shop would probably mean no more art exhibited at the Cultural Center, since that’s the only place left to show it.

The food idea is a recent one. Adding a food facility is not a bad idea, as long as it fits the clientele. But sticking it inside the building where they want is stupid. I’ve heard from more than one source that the building developed a rodent problem when Bill Drennen made the craft shop store and cook popcorn for his movie series, and that was on Saturdays. Imagine what would happen if there was real food being brought in seven days a week.

The library is adjacent to offices in the Center. Think about the odors drifting back through the building and out into the lobby. Do they plan to stick an exhaust vent out the side of the building?

As for “done deal” and “merely one possibility,” that’s how this has been presented to the public since it first leaked out. No one would talk about it, but plans were drawn and estimates worked out, and apparently one supervisor fired over it. No alternatives were suggested until this month.

One final quote: “This will be so thoroughly vetted that people will be sick of it.” (Goodwin) They’ve been working on it for two years and it’s just now coming into the light. It should be interesting on History Day.

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