Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fort Pitt Museum to Stay Open

The Fort Pitt Museum will remain open. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) Board today voted unanimously to keep the museum open and to seek a contract with the Heinz Regional History Center to operate the facility.
With state budget cuts, the commission had earlier decided to close Fort Pitt Museum in Pittsburgh and the Bushy Run Battlefield in Westmoreland County. Fort Pitt was built in 1754 when General John Forbes and Colonel George Washington led British troops that chased the French from the region during the French and Indian War.
Several organizations submitted proposals to keep Ft. Pitt Museum open including the group, Friends of the Fort Pitt Museum. Commission Board member State Senator Jim Ferlo says the "Friends" group would still be encouraged to play a role and that would be defined as a contract is drafted with the Heinz Regional History Center. The Center's President, Andy Masich, says he's delighted by the PHMC decision and it's "natural" because the Center was founded 130 years ago in time for the 125th anniversary of the French and Indian War.
Masich says their goal is to make Ft. Pitt Museum bigger and better and attract more people, especially students...."including some of the 50,000 students that visit the Heinz History Center each year."
Masich says he'd like to see ongoing archaeological work at the site because "there's still a lot of history underfoot" and an archaeology lab on the first floor of the museum in cooperation with a regional university.
Masich is hoping to erect a 36-foot tall garrison flag to fly over the fort and be lit 24 hours a day so it's the first thing motorists see coming through the Fort Pitt Tunnels. He says some parts of their 5 year plan can be done in time for the new school year and the G-20 Summit in September.

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