The messages coming from Terry Thomann, the Civil War Life Museum’s director and members of the board of directors have been incredibly confusing over the past week. The sticking point seems to be the significance of Thomann’s recent decision to close his Spotsylvania site in favor of Fredericksburg, which will give him the opportunity to sell all kinds of Civil War souvenirs. Unfortunately, there is still no update on the foundation’s website, which is hard to believe given the importance attached to their $12 million fundraiser to open a state-of-the-art museum in Spotsylvania in time for the Civil War Sesquicentennial. It is unclear as to whether Thomann plans to remain involved in this venture:
Thomann said he is still interested in talking with the county about opening a new museum, but he also hinted several times that it will take monetary support to make it happen. He said the National Civil War Life Foundation, which was established about two years ago to raise $12 million for a new museum, meets later this month. The members could still decide to try to open a museum in Spotsylvania, Thomann said. [my emphasis]
Perhaps additional information will be forthcoming following the next board meeting, but does anyone really believe that if Thomann’s store is successful that he will give it up in favor of a return to Spotsylvania? You are simply not going to sell as many Mort Kunstler prints there.
Let me state for the record that I love the idea for this museum. Its focus is broad and the emphasis seems to be on education and community outreach. My problem is that as important as Spotsylvania is to the history of the Civil War I just don’t see how a major museum project can work financially. This was the main reason why I resisted getting involved early on. There seeem to be no clear indication as to the future of this project, including the involvement of its director. Under these conditions one wonders how they plan on convincing donors to sign on and given the fact that Virginia has already begun commemorating the sesquicentennial.
Update: Please don’t blame me if the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star is doing a better job of updating the public on the future of the Civil War Life Museum than the people who are associated with this project.