NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 28, 2013

A museum in need of help

Bartlett Museum board struggles to support town institution

AMESBURY — Facing a decline in membership and a rapidly deteriorating building, the Bartlett Museum is looking for help as it struggles to raise money for badly needed repairs.

Located at 270 Main St. in a 19th century schoolhouse, the Bartlett Museum was established in 1968 as a place to showcase Amesbury’s rich cultural and industrial history. Once a vibrant historical destination, the old Victorian-era edifice has been plagued by a whole range of issues that are familiar to old buildings.

The building has a leaky roof, faulty pipes and no working toilet. The front of the building was repainted a couple of years ago, but there wasn’t enough money to repaint the other three sides, which are in bad shape and have old lead paint that needs to be scraped off first.

“It’s basically everything,” said Dianne Cole, who serves on the museum’s board of directors. “We can’t touch anything until we have money, but right now we’re just paying the heat, lights and phone, and that’s all we can afford at the moment, then it gets worse as the years go on.”

To make matters worse, the museum’s carriage house, located it its backyard, suffered damage after a large tree limb collapsed in a storm and busted a hole in the building’s roof.

“We patched the roof with some scraps, but the main museum probably needs a new roof,” Cole said. “The pipes leak, and we used to pay docents to give tours, but we stopped that because we couldn’t afford it.”

Cole estimated that the museum would need to raise thousands of dollars to make all the necessary repairs. Several fundraisers have been scheduled this spring to try to raise that money, but those will likely act as a Band-Aid covering up a festering wound.

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