Friends of the Zeiss                                                    Statement of

P.O. Box 1041                                                                                 Glenn A. Walsh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                                      Before the

Telephone: 412-561-7876                                             Allegheny Regional

Electronic Mail: < >                 Asset District: 

Internet Web Site: < >               2004 October 25


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


Last month, the Columbus Center of Science and Industry (COSI) downsized and they indefinitely mothballed their new Digistar II Planetarium. On October 8, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. announced the closing, next April, of the one-year old City Museum of Washington, which occupies the 1903 Carnegie Library building, which I visited in August of 2000 prior to museum renovation,


Museum management told The Washington Post that the museum opened without enough money to sustain the museum's plans and to advertise its content. Through August, the museum had attracted only 36,500 paying patrons, far short of the 100,000 to 450,000.that had been projected--despite being located across the street from a newly-opened Washington Convention Center!


The same type of wishful thinking, which occurred in Washington, is also reflected in the business plan of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, despite the Children's Museum's $2.4 million accumulated operating deficit over the last five years!


According to the Children's Museum business plan:


1) They will annually receive $112,000 in rentals, as well as another $32,000 from fee-based services, from six non-profit organizations. I wonder how some of these non-profits will be able to sustain these payments. For instance, the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra will annually pay $18,500 for rent and $6,000 for fee-based services.  Yet most, if not all, of the Youth Symphony concerts are free-of-charge! Ultimately, the Children's Museum will have to settle for less income from most of these non-profits.


2) The Children's Museum expects to receive $1 per visitor per year from the cafe/restaurant, a non-profit "industry standard." Yet, this could be a golden opportunity to bring in additional revenue!


When the Allegheny Center Mall was converted to an office building several years ago, Pappan's Family Restaurant, Northern Meat Market, Tavern on the Square, and a half-dozen restaurants in the Terrace Level Food Court closed. Earlier this year, Wendy's Restaurant also closed. A good quality restaurant in the Children's Museum could compete for the lunch crowd from the Allegheny Center office buildings. Yet, it seems the Museum cafe is only designed-for, and will be marketed-to, Museum visitors.


3) As with the attendance projections in Washington, it is difficult to see how the Children's Museum will nearly double their attendance, as promised in the business plan, particularly now with $2 a gallon gasoline. To stay financially solvent, additional adult visitors will be needed.


To avoid the fates of the City Museum of Washington and COSI, and the problems of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, I, again, urge this Board to insist that the Children's Museum expand their mission statement to appeal to adults with the return of the historic Buhl Planetarium equipment and artifacts to the Buhl Planetarium building, which opened to the public 65 years ago today!


Thank you.                                                                                                                                                            gaw

From The Washington Post, Washington, DC - 2004 October 9:
City Museum to Close Its Galleries
Troubled Venue Will Continue to Rent Space for Events

By Jacqueline Trescott
Housed in former Carnegie Library building, which had served as the Main Branch of the
Washington Public Library System, City Museum of Washington plans to close exhibit
galleries to general public due to financial problems, after two years of operation.