Our Opinion: CVB seizes opportunity with prison museum

The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) does not let the knock of opportunity go unanswered.

The bureau’s latest venture is the opening of the Missouri State Penitentiary Museum, located on the second floor of its offices at 100 E. High St.

The museum is designed as an enhancement to the bureau’s tours of the vacated maximum security prison. The tours have increased in popularity each year since they began in 2009.

Timing is critical to maximize the opportunities linked to both the prison tours and museum.

The decommissioning of the prison in 2004 prompted preservationists to urge renovation of specified historic structures on the site.

Sadly, the buildings continue to deteriorate amid official inertia, despite the pleas of preservationists and the actions of the CVB, which demonstrated people both near and far would pay to tour the vacated prison.

CVB officials once again have seized an opportunity by collecting and displaying prison memorabilia before it becomes lost, scattered and destroyed.

The bureau did not do so on its own. The museum received funding from the Discover Jefferson City Foundation and a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council. The design and display reflect the efforts of curator Cindee Herrick and many CVB staff members.

The prison museum — unlike the redevelopment site — represents a concept that has been carried through to fruition.

CVB officials hope the museum someday can be relocated to a suitable, renovated facility on the prison site.

We share that vision.

For today, we commend the CVB for its initiative to create the museum and its efforts to collect, preserve and display these valuable links to state and local history.

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