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Schminck Museum status still in flux

A possible pending closure of Lakeview’s Schminck Museum has been often rumored, but a final decision as to its future is yet to be decided.

An official statement from the Oregon State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, owners of the museum, is still pending at time of print, and numerous messages left for local residents directly associated with the museum or otherwise vocal in their desires to keep the museum open have not been returned.

However, following a meeting last week between DAR representatives with Town Manager Ray Simms and Commissioner Ken Kestner, the root causes of the rumored dispute have at least been somewhat clarified.

Issues such as heating costs, water usage, better signage, alarm systems, enhancing community involvement, and hours of operation more conducive for visitors to patron the establishment have been raised, but for now the possible solutions and the status of the museum remain in flux.

Established in the Sept. 17, 1960 with last will and testament of Artie Lula Schminck, the property and many of the artifacts now on display were bequeathed to a board of management comprised of the State Regent and Lakeview Chapter Regent of the DAR, as well as a restrictive endowment established for preservation and upkeep.

The Schminck Museum, located at 128 S. E Street in Lakeview, opened in 1962 with oversight by the DAR. The museum is operated seasonally in spring and summer, Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On March 26, Simms, Kestner and Lakeview Chapter Regent of DAR, Louise Taylor met with three representatives of the Oregon Society DAR to address rumors that had spread of the potential future closure of the museum and the collection unique to Lake County to be removed by the DAR, which includes some items donated or loaned by local residents.

Wholly owned and operated by the DAR as private property, the town of Lakeview and Lake County have no oversight or management of the Schminck Museum.

The recent meeting revealed two primary issues raised by the DAR. Financially, each DAR chapter is expected to be self-sustaining, and the museum has run a deficit for several years, not raising through admission donations or endowment interest the approximately $12,000 reportedly needed annually to cover maintenance and upkeep of the facility. With costs drastically exceeding income, finding a reduction in overhead or a solution to relieve the DAR of the financial burden is paramount in keeping the museum operational.

The DAR, town and county recognize the social, economic, and educational value the Schminck Museum provides to the community, with the recent meeting addressing issues and sharing ideas of how to find reasonable positive solutions to address the safety and financial concerns in a manner that could potentially keep the museum and its artifacts in Lakeview for the foreseeable future. Whether it is feasible to keep the Schminck open amidst financial and safety concerns remains in doubt, and the reality of these burdens may finally trump the educational and historical value the Schminck provides.

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