SC State museum director says building not ready for closing

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — The museum on South Carolina State University’s campus isn’t ready to move the thousands of artifacts to another building so the school can shut down the building and save on utilities, according to its director.

The museum only has an $11,000 budget and a suitable building for the artifacts, which must be in climate-controlled settings with several different temperatures, hasn’t been found, said I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium Director Ellen Zisholtz.

Other museum experts agree. “You’re not just moving a box of books,” Association of African American Museums President Samuel Black told The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg.

Interim university President Franklin Evans announced his plan to close the museum and eight other buildings over the summer. An exact date to stop running the air conditioning and heat at the museum has not been set. The school didn’t comment to the newspaper on the concerns of the experts. The museum holds SC State’s well-known African art collection. It also owns a collection of Andy Warhol prints, silver gelatin photographs by Addison Scurlock, paintings by Romare Bearden, Jacob Laurence and William H. Johnson. Civil rights photographer Cecil Williams keeps some of his work there, along with Orangeburg sculptor Leonard Cave.

Zisholtz is currently packing up a display of memorabilia from soul singer James Brown that was on loan from his estate.

The museum only shows about a quarter of its artifacts at any time. The rest are in a special climate controlled vault with shelves that pull out and retract at the push of a button, Zisholtz said.

“This is organized,” she said. “Everything is marked. We know what’s on each shelf, know where to find everything. If we move it out of here ... I don’t know how we will keep up with it.”

A solution like loaning out artifacts to other museums until SC State gets on better financial footing likely won’t work either because there are so many items, Black said.

“I doubt if you would get one institution that would take the whole collection because of the time involved, insurance costs and the tremendous responsibility,” Black said.

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Information from: The Times & Democrat, http://www.timesanddemocrat.com