NORWALK, Conn. — Susan Gunn Bromley, curator of the Norwalk Museum, has written a letter to the editor in response to the Norwalk Finance Director's suggestion that the museum be closed to cut costs to the city.
Norwalk's finance director has proposed that the Norwalk Museum, Norwalk’s only municipal museum, be closed, according to press reports. Thomas Hamilton said that closing the museum and eliminating the curator’s position would save the city $216,395.
How is this number arrived at and what is the plan to move the collections?
Packing up the collections, moving them and paying for proper climate-controlled storage will be costly. Has the Finance Director investigated these costs? The collections are vast and vary in size and scope – furniture, paintings, textiles, tools, goods manufactured in Norwalk, the Dunne Hardware Store, ceramics, over 30,000 photographs, thousands of books, maps, historic documents, 19th and 20th century newspapers are just some of the collections. Reference materials are accessed by local and national scholars, Norwalk citizens and students.
The museum attendance fluctuates from year to year depending on events held. In recent years the attendance has reached over 4,000 with a support staff of one part-time employee and wonderful, dedicated volunteers.
Maintaining a curator to care for the collection was part of the city’s initial agreement with the founders of the Museum, Manice Deforest Lockwood, his cousin Julia Belden Lockwood and other residents. The founders funded the design and building of the Lockwood House building on East Avenue, previously the home of the Norwalk Museum and presently being used for the Fire Department. In addition, they donated historically and artistically significant collections to support the museum. The city agreed to fund a curator to care for the collections and donated the land on which the Lockwood House was built.
Removing the Museum from South Norwalk, an area that is already suffering from closed businesses and vacant storefronts, will create one more abandoned building space and take away another tourist destination from the immediate walking area, reducing the reason for tourists, visitors and people dining in South Norwalk restaurants from coming to South Norwalk.
Why did the Finance Director not explore with the Mayor, Common Council, Historical Commission and Curator options for enhancing support for the museum?
Making the Museum open one night a week so the Museum can hold openings, provide another destination to diners and thereby introducing the Museum to another group of working individuals would help the Museum grow, bring in additional revenue and help support itself. This is just one idea for ways to assist the Museum in raising money to help support its activities.
The idea of putting the Norwalk Museum into the Lockwood Mansion Museum is unworkable and shows an overall lack of understanding of the vastness of the NM collection, the renovation work that is going to be taking place at the LMMM and the logistics of each museum’s requirements and purpose.
If you are interested in preserving the Norwalk Museum, please consider emailing or writing to: the Norwalk Common Council members, Mayor Richard Moccia, the members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, and the Director of Finance Thomas Hamilton. Their email addresses are listed below.
Bondi, Fred - 15 King St. Norwalk, CT 06851 203 853-0793 firstname.lastname@example.org
Duleep, Anna, Majority Leader - 3 Brierwood Rd. Norwalk, CT 06850 203 253 7862 email@example.com
Hempstead, Douglas, Minority Leader - 116 Chestnut Hill Rd. Norwalk, CT 06851 203 846 1054 firstname.lastname@example.org
Peña, Warren - 6 Felix Lane Norwalk, CT 06850 203 515-0046 email@example.com
Romano, Joanne – 7 Hayes Ave. Norwalk, CT 06855 203 544 6071 firstname.lastname@example.org
Miklave, Mathew - ½ Highview Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851 203 852 5811 email@example.com
Watts, David - 22 June Ave. Norwalk, CT 06850 203 722-3525 firstname.lastname@example.org
Geake, Michael - 39 Elmwood Ave. Norwalk, CT 06854 203 722 8909 email@example.com
Hilliard, Carvin - 8 Raymond St., 2nd fl. Norwalk, CT 06854 203 642 4260 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kydes, Nicholas D. - 8 Newtown Terrace Norwalk, CT 06851 203 829 9122 email@example.com
Maggio, Michelle A. - 16 Alden Ave. Norwalk, CT 06855 203 854 4847 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimmel, Bruce I. - 9 Toilsome Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851 917 207 6612 email@example.com
Petrini, Jerry E. - 9 Romindon Court Norwalk, CT 06851 203 846-2536 firstname.lastname@example.org
Igneri, John E. - 55 Bluff Ave. Norwalk, CT 06853 917 576 7946 email@example.com
McCarthy, David T. - 38 Nearwater Rd. Norwalk, CT 06853 203 838 4665 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Richard Moccia - 125 East Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851 203 854 770 email@example.com
Thomas Hamilton, Director - 125 East Ave. Norwalk, CT 06851 203 854 7870 firstname.lastname@example.org