The new director of the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum has his work cut out for him. The museum honoring Wapakoneta’s most famous native son reopens this week, and it will have to make it on its own.
Director Christopher Burton offers reason to hope the museum is going to find success. Burton, a week and a half into the job, said increasing attendance is a primary goal. That is the way it should be — those who support and are interested in such things supporting them — and the cut in state funding for such attractions is forcing the matter.
The Ohio Historical Society in December handed control of the Armstrong Museum to a local group of private individuals and groups. Ongoing cuts in the state budget have left the historical society with less ability to support local sites. Sites like the Armstrong Museum are of great importance, but the significance of that importance diminishes the further you get from them. And, say what you want about the importance of history, neither political party is going to raise taxes right now to support museums.
So you either can gripe about the loss of history or you can do something about it. Burton says the Armstrong Museum will do something about it.
The Lima News said in an editorial in December that the museum needs to draw interest — and visits — from a much wider audience. Burton said Tuesday that upping the number of visits to the museums will be the goal. The museum reopens Thursday under the direction of the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum Association.
Keeping the museum open certainly is an important mission. It will, as we’ve said, require local effort combined with more visitors from outside the immediate area. Such focus had been lost with state lawmakers and bureaucrats who are only too happy in a good economy to pass out funding to all parties that ask. The economy over the last several years has refocused the efforts.
It took NASA almost a decade to answer President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon. That challenge was new, to do something no one ever had done. Drawing more people to the museum that bears the name of the man who first walked on the moon — Armstrong — also might be a challenge, but it’s not a new one.