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Supporters, Critics Debate Exploris' Value To Public

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County leaders want to cut back funding for

"We've put in a good effort," Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley said. "But I do believe we should cut our losses and move forward, and the space could be converted to a productive use."

Wake County government spends more than $2 million a year on Exploris. But the county manager wants to slowly wean the museum from the public dime by trimming $100,000 from next year's budget. Critics say even more should be cut.

"I believe it was a failed experiment," Gurley said.

State Sen. Vernon Malone, D-Wake County, disagreed. He called Exploris a key to downtown development.

"Critics aggravate me only to the extent that they don't seem to understand the importance of the museum," Malone said.

Instead of pulling the plug, Malone wants state government to partner with the museum and spend another $3.5 million to keep Exploris alive.

"Ongoing support from our government partners is an essential part of Exploris' budget," Exploris President Anne Bryan said.

Bryan said that, thanks to the "China On Tour" exhibit and the IMAX Theatre, museum attendance should rise this fiscal year. To continue that trend, she said, Exploris needs more patience and more public money.

The Exploris Board of Directors is working on a three-year plan to improve the museum. Legislation calling for new funding has not yet been considered by lawmakers.

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