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Homer Pratt Museum Operation in 2024

Early in February, the Homer Pratt Museum held its annual business meeting to review the past year and elect new board members.

The Homer Society of Natural History and the City of Homer constructed and subsequently opened the Homer Pratt Museum in 1968 to share the stories of Kachemak Bay through storytelling. Over the years, it has welcomed thousands of visitors and showcased numerous exhibitions focusing on the area's cultural and natural heritage. Recently, the museum has encountered challenges with rising maintenance costs, infrastructure issues, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, museum staff are optimistic about its future with the appointment of a new executive director and successful accreditation.

A pressing concern for the museum is the declining condition of its building. Executive Director Patricia Relay said a few issues with the building have been unresolved for many years.

“Our number one is this roof. It's turned into a health and human safety issue, as some galleries have more buckets than art, or more buckets and objects. I've got buckets in elevators, and I've got plastic hanging down over technology. I've got beams that are cracking,” she said.

Relay said the roof has sustained damage from ice dam build-up over the years and has been an issue since 2007. She said the projected price of a new roof has increased from around $500 thousand in 2007 up by $812,481 to $1,362,48 in 2024.

Relay intends to make the funding of a new roof a capital project for the City of Homer. She said the city of Homer has invited the museum to nominate a capital facilities project, with a priority placed on securing funding for a new roof through legislative channels.

“All I know is the number one priority with the city of Homer is health and human safety. And at this point, I truly believe that's where we're at," she said.

Other issues include a lack of control over its HVAC and boiler systems, which pose risks to preserving delicate artifacts. Securing funding to cover various costs associated with running and maintaining the museum is also an ongoing priority.

Former Board President Linda Rowell said the past year was challenging, but she is feeling positive about the future.

“We had some real highs, and we had a few lows. But I think we finished the year positively, which makes me feel really good," she said.

Over the past year, the museum has been offering tours and workshops along with its normal operations in an attempt to stabilize its finances. That effort remains a priority for Relay and museum staff going forward.

“We're going to need to figure out how to diversify our revenue streams, we can't rely solely on grants," she said.

The museum has been actively seeking to diversify its revenue streams, including reopening its store, increasing programs and workshops, tours, and school groups, and increasing tourism and travel involvement by partnering up with local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Pier One Theatre to attract more visitors and generate additional income.

During its annual business meeting, The Homer Society of Natural History Inc. appointed seven new members to its board of directors, including board president Milli Martin and write-in vice president Mel Strydom. The additions to the board were Milli Martin, Mel Strydom, Jennifer Bartolowits, Savanna Bradley, Clark Fair, Tim Hatfield, and Sue Fallon.

The Homer Pratt Museum continues to offer a range of events and exhibits for the 2024 season. You can find more information about upcoming events as well as recent challenges here.

Simon Lopez is a long time listener of KBBI Homer. He values Kachemak Bay’s beauty and its overall health. Simon is community oriented and enjoys being involved in building and maintaining an informed and proactive community.
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