Littleton council decides not to charge admission at museum

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By Ramsey Scott

Admission fees won’t be charged at the Littleton Museum anytime soon, though the City Council still wants to continue looking for ways to raise money to support the facility.

The council decided not to impose admission fees at the museum after hearing six fee-structure options it had requested in January. Museum director Tim Nimz suggested options that would raise anywhere from $7,500 to $157,000 yearly but warned the fees likely would reduce attendance.

He also feared that admission fees might result in residents donating less money to the Friends of the Library and Museum, a nonprofit whose support helps fund many of the museum’s programs. He added that a majority of the museum’s volunteers disapproved of charging fees, and he was concerned the museum would lose volunteers if admission fees were imposed.

Operating the museum, on South Gallup Street, costs the city about $1.3 million annually.

Charging a fee also would require a paid employee to work in an admission booth, along with a nominal equipment fee, Nimz said.

Councilman Bruce Stahlman said he didn’t support imposing a fee, although down the road it might be something the council should consider. He viewed the museum remaining free as part of the council’s mission to improve Littleton’s quality of life. 

Councilman Jerry Valdes said that eventually the council would need to figure out how to pay for the museum. 

The council directed Nimz to continue to work on funding options. 

The options presented by Nimz included charging $1 for adults with kids under 6 getting in free, which he said would raise about $7,470 annually, to charging $1 for nonresident adults and children, with residents getting in free, which he said could bring in about $18,252. 

Nimz said the option that made the most sense financially would be to charge both residents and nonresidents $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for kids over age 6, which could raise up to $157,250. 

That option should be coupled with free admission for members of the Friends of the Library and Museum. 

Nimz predicted a large drop in annual attendance from 132,293 visitors to about 55,000. The museum estimates about 65 percent of museum-goers come from Littleton, with the majority repeat visitors.