Change in Plans Leaves the New Jersey State Museum in Limbo

Disclaimer: I write the following post as a private citizen. Even though I am a research associate at the museum, my work is done on a volunteer basis in cooperation with museum staff. I am not employed by the museum, and my views do not necessarily represent those of any New Jersey State Museum employee.

After months of uncertainty, the short-term fate of the New Jersey State Museum has finally been revealed. Despite plans proposed by Republican governor Chris Christie that the museum (along with the State Library and Thomas Edison College) be folded into Rutgers University, it was recently announced that the merger has been canceled. (Why the plans were scrapped has not been made public.) The NJSM will remain open under the Department of State for at least another year.

The decision leaves me with mixed feelings. I am happy that the museum is not going to be immediately shut down, but I am frustrated that it will not receive the essential support it needs to be revitalized. In fact, the funding being made available to keep the museum open is receiving a significant cut, meaning that sorely-needed renovations (such as the redesign of the natural history hall) will not be made. Furthermore, the ultimate fate of the museum remains unclear. How long will the present administration support the museum, and where is the museum going to get the money to restore itself? Will New Jersey citizens have to worry about the closure of the museum all over again this time next year? No one knows, but I sincerely hope that the museum administrators will find a way to ensure the survival of this unique and important institution.

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