Hirzel said tourism is important to the state and to Guthrie, and the State Capital Publishing Museum is “one of the jewels.”
“Tourism in Guthrie is everything,” he said. “First and foremost we would love for it to be a publishing museum like it is.”
Blackburn said he too would like that. He thinks for it to be really effective, it would need to be to run as a living history museum, where people are printing, binding and so on as visitors come through. However, he said “the equipment is extremely expensive to rehabilitate.” The cost would be more than $3 million in development and a staff of eight to 10 people would be needed, he said.
Blackburn said the largest staff right now at one of their biggest historical sites is four people at the Pawnee Bill Ranch. He said the Oklahoma Historical Society budget has been cut 28 percent over the last four years and “we cut everything proportionately” — the museum sites, the Oklahoma History Center and others.
“And that's when we got more aggressive with generating our own stream of revenue,” he said. “And we haven't been able to do that with the State Capital Publishing Museum, whereas at probably 15 of our other museum sites we've been generating well over 20 percent of their budgets with either fundraising or by generating revenue.”
The State Capital Publishing Museum had been open on Wednesdays through Saturdays, Fesler said. However, in the summer, the museum closed any time the temperature in the building reached 90 degrees, Fesler said.
“We would like to open it back if we could get those issues fixed,” she said.
Blackburn said during the winter they will look at all options, such as cutting back to seasonal hours in the spring and fall when the heat and air would not likely be needed or finding a partner to do the living history aspect. He said a decision would need to be made by July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.