Local News

Raleigh museum struggles to survive during pandemic shutdown

Posted August 31, 2020 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated August 31, 2020 8:16 a.m. EDT

— Across the country, economic woes from the coronavirus pandemic have many museums considering shutting their doors for good. One recent report suggests that 1 in 3 museums are in danger of closing permanently.

Lanie Hubbard, director of the Joel Lane Museum House in Raleigh, said after months with few or no tours with paying visitors, financial losses are piling up.

"House museums, in particular, have a had trouble for a long time," Hubbard said.

The Joel Lane Museum House is the oldest dwelling in Raleigh and Wake County. In 1792, Lane sold 1,000 acres of his land and that's the land which the City of Raleigh was built on.

Hubbard said she is thankful for the support of community volunteers and for some financial relief.

"We were very fortunate," she said. "We received a paycheck protection program loan, which ran out at the end of June."

That financial support is now up, and Hubbard said the museum had to furlough one employee during the pandemic.

She and her staff are now preparing for when visitors can once again safely spend a day of leisure on the historic grounds.

"We want to be able to tell these stories," said Hubbard. "So that when we do come back, we’re going to come back stronger than ever."

Last February, the museum unveiled a new addition in a garden on the property as a memorial to people who were enslaved by the Lane family. Hubbard said at least 43 men, women and children are known to have been enslaved on the plantation and they are honored through this special exhibit.

Most recently, new research has shown that the original color of the Lane home was most likely red. The new paint color could bring old visitors back, if the museum wasn't closed.

The Joel Lane Museum House gift shop is still open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing when you are there.

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