Friends of the Zeiss                                     Statement Before Board of Directors,

P.O. Box 1041                                                                    Allegheny Regional Asset District:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                                       2003 October 1

Telephone: 412-561-7876

Electronic Mail: < >

Internet Web Site: < >


Good evening, I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mount Lebanon. I am Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.


Last month, Children’s Museum Executive Director Jane Werner waved a business plan before you and promised that Museum finances would be “in excess” with no deficits, once the expanded Museum opens.


Do you really believe that after four years of deficits, with half-million deficits the last two years, the Museum will magically turn a profit, or even break-even, once they have to manage a facility four times the size of the current Museum ?


This is a photocopy of that business plan, obtained from the Regional Asset District office. Ms. Werner was right about one thing; it is very interesting reading!


This business plan shows deficits for three years of the seven-year plan—unless you include depreciation, as is always included in RAD grant applications—when there are six-digit deficits for all seven years of the business plan! How many business plans have you seen that include multi-year six-digit deficits?


Ms. Werner said that the Museum’s deficits, over the last four years, were planned-for by the business plan. More to the point, this atypical business plan gave Ms. Werner the excuse to ignore the need to balance the Children’s Museum budget! No matter what this strange business plans says, it will be much more difficult to balance the Museum’s budget once the facility is four times larger—not easier, as Ms. Werner would want you to believe.


On page 17 of the business plan, it briefly speaks to the labor-intensive nature of the expanded Museum: “Personnel (expense is high but also represents a soft cost easily cut if attendance is lower than projection)”. I wonder if the Children’s Museum staff realizes that they are considered a “soft cost easily cut”.


The Carnegie Science Center used the same rationale when they opened in 1991. Their revenue was no-where-near projection. The Science Center reduced public visiting hours, increased admission fees, and laid-off about 30 employees, all within the first year of operation! Revenue also did not meet projection for the 1996 opening of the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center.


Will history repeat for a third time with the opening of the expanded Children’s Museum? This is quite possible, even likely.


If the Children’s Museum expansion project must go forward, then additional revenue sources must be found for operating the expanded building. To maximize the revenue potential of the Buhl Planetarium building, and attendance to the expanded Children’s Museum, we ask that this Board insist that the historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector and 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope be returned to the Buhl Planetarium building for historical presentations in the expanded Museum.


Thank you.



Also see:

Children's Museum Deficits for Fiscal Years 2000-2003

News Release