published Monday, November 26th, 2012

Taxpayers taken for a ride

While other museums may cost Americans more, no pork project takes taxpayers for a ride quite like the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.

In 1915, carousel maker Allan Herschell created the Allan Herschell Company, based just outside of Buffalo in North Tonawanda, N.Y., the carousel capital of the time.

Between 1916 and the late 1950s, the Herschell Carrousel Factory produced about 3,000 carved wooden carousels before moving to another location and eventually being bought out. The vacant North Tonawanda factory was restored and opened as the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in 1983.

The merry-go-round museum draws a paltry 15,000 visitors per year, and with admission fees topping out at $5 for adults, the museum's administrators are always on the lookout for more money. Instead of improving private fundraising efforts, or simply closing the flagging facility, museum managers went on the dole, badgering local, state and federal government agencies for taxpayer-funded handouts.

The plan has worked. Since 2005, government giveaways to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum have cost federal, state and local taxpayers a combined $410,431.

In 2009, the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum grabbed the brass ring of government grants when it received a $265,000 "Save America's Treasures" award from the National Park Service to fund structural renovations to the museum at the expense of federal taxpayers.

Additionally, the federally-funded Institute of Museum and Library Services has divvied out $291,489 of Americans' money to the museum since 1999. Among the Institute of Museum and Library Services' handouts was an $83,478 award in 2006 to help the museum shift its focus from adults, who generally don't care about merry-go-rounds, to children, who generally can't talk adults into visiting museums about merry-go-rounds.

The museum features a carved wooden pig that was once mounted on an Allan Herschell carousel, a fitting reminder of all of the taxpayer-funded pork spending devoured by the facility.

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BillVolckening said...

Is your newspaper really going to continue commenting on museum funding after you got thoroughly and embarrassingly schooled by all the quilt people? Really??

November 26, 2012 at 4:39 a.m.
rolando said...

Good or not and whether or not we want it, that's what is going to happen anyway, Jon.

November 26, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.
BillVolckening said...

If anything is sickening, it's the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and its backwoods, backward-thinking opinion writers.

November 26, 2012 at 2:58 p.m.
jade said...

Honestly, you continue to rail on MINUSCULE amounts of federal funding for museums when the war in Afghanistan costs $289 million PER DAY?! How very ignorant and short sighted.

November 27, 2012 at 1:28 p.m.
rolando said...

Difference is, jade, that $289Million goes to pay Americans. We don't just put that money inside bombs, etc and just drop it. It is used to pay highly skilled workers...not "burger flippers" or non-contributors to our tax base.

But you are right; those museum funds represent very loose pocket change in the government's scheme of things.

The article is even less than factual; it plays games with the money spent in saying things like, "Since 2005, government giveaways to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum have cost federal, state and local taxpayers a combined $410,431."

It then says, "In 2009, the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum grabbed the brass ring of government grants when it received a $265,000 "Save America's Treasures" award...to fund structural renovations to the museum at the expense of federal taxpayers."

Translation: "Not counting the one-time award of $265K+ OF FEDERAL FUNDS for repairs in 2009, the museum received just under $150K between 2005 and 2012 -- or about $20K a year." Wow! That's Mayor Littlefield's salary...for just under two months!

November 27, 2012 at 7:39 p.m.
BillVolckening said...

After reading three of the opinion pieces - this one, the one about quilts, and the one about NASCAR - my opinion about the opinion writer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press is not good.

Do people in Tennessee really care about the poorly informed opinions of exceedingly arrogant good ol' boys?

God help us all if we don't have NASCAR anymore! What a brilliant idea it is to burn thousands of gallons of fossil fuel to entertain people who are probably just as happy watching Dukes of Hazzard reruns. If I hadn't read the Times Free Press, I never would've realized how important NASCAR is, and how unimportant American history is. :P

November 29, 2012 at 8:55 a.m.
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