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YSU eager to take over operations of steel museum



Published: Thu, December 31, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Harold Gwin

The university hopes to expand public knowledge and use of the steel museum.

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State University on Friday will officially take control of operations at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor.

The university and the Ohio Historical Society have signed a two-year management contract that will have the society providing YSU with $47,700 in cash annually to help finance the facility’s operations. YSU will have to come up with about $50,000 per year of its own to complete the financial package.

The society will be responsible for capital improvements and serve as the primary conduit for major grant funds. The five part-time employees employed by the Ohio Historical Society will remain society employees.

Although it is only a two-year contract, the dean of YSU’s College of Library Arts and Social Sciences said he hopes the arrangement will last much longer.

“We expect it to be indefinite. I’m very excited about it,” Shearle Furnish said, pointing out that the facility, located at 151 W. Wood St. and commonly referred to as the “steel museum,” will be a good fit for the university’s history department.

The university’s historic-preservation department will move into the museum, and YSU has an applied-history program that includes archival history and historic preservation that can easily be tied to museum operations, he said.

The Ohio Historical Society actively seeks local partners to operate some of its 58 historical sites and museums, and about half of them are now being run under that type of partnership.

It was the Friends of the Youngstown Historical Center of Labor and Industry that put the society and YSU together.

The volunteer group was formed to help improve the public use and exposure of the museum and made the initial contact with the society that eventually led to the negotiation of the management contract approved by the YSU Board of Trustees and the society’s board of directors earlier this month.

The university wants to extend pubic use of the facility by conducting events there and expanding the K-12 school connection. Any revenue generated by the university programming would remain here.

The arrangement also is expected to generate student internships, work opportunities and assistantships. YSU already has two graduate students working under intern assistantships at the museum.

Ikram Khawaja, YSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the project is in line with the university’s academic objectives and will provide another step in the physical interface between YSU and the city.

Although YSU officially takes over tomorrow, the museum is temporarily closed and scheduled to reopen Jan. 11.

gwin@vindy.com


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