State museum hours cut

Gov. Jim Gibbons sent the rubber stamp he used to veto a record-setting number of bills to the Nevada State Museum, whose workers suffered more than other agencies in the legislative session.

While workers in most agencies must take one day a month off, museum workers in the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) were cut to four-day work weeks. No other workers have experienced that deep a cut.

“They’re an anomaly,” said one figure familiar with state government. “The university didn’t take a hit like that. Other state departments didn’t take a hit like that.”

It’s not clear why the museum workers were singled out that way—legislators seemed not to realize they had done it—but the upshot was that Gibbons’ rubber stamp was not received at the museum as quite the venerated artifact the governor might have hoped. “Why us?” said one employee. “He couldn’t send it to the [Nevada] Historical Society where it belongs?”

The historical society, however, is also a part of the DCA.

The hours when the state’s seven state-run museums are open during the months when the public uses them the most are also being cut, nearly in half. That reduction takes effect this week.

Gibbons had proposed a 40 percent cut to DCA, but was overridden by lawmakers who restored some funding. They said that often museums are the most frequent point of contact between Nevadans and their government. Still, DCA’s previous 187-person staff is now down to 142. Museum officials say they are trying to arrange days and hours to make the most of what money the agency does have.

In one case, legislators provided funding to finish construction of a museum, which will then stand dark until the next legislature can find money to open it.

As it happens, museum visits frequently rise in hard times as people are reluctant to pay for higher priced family entertainment.

A recording on the Nevada State Museum phone line in Carson City announces, “Due to budget reductions, the Nevada State Museum will be closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday beginning the week of July 6, 2009. … New admission fees also go into effect July 1—$6 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for members and persons under 18 years of age.”

The Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas has fees of $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and members, and people under 17 free.