Rigby museum here to stay — but where?


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RIGBY — Fans of a local TV museum no longer have to worry that there won’t be one.

“It really is just an incredible thing that Rigby has the history of (television pioneer) Philo T. Farnsworth here,” Rigby Mayor Jason Richardson said. “I think it’s a great thing for our community, and that’s what I’m looking to preserve.”

City of Rigby officials said regardless of the decision to build a new museum, the Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum isn’t going anywhere. If the city finds a serious purchaser for the current property on First South, the responsibility of building a new venue lies with the buyer.

“I’m not willing to give up a museum then go find property,” Richardson said. “We’re not looking at spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars.”

“There’s no way I’m losing a museum.”

While the decision of a buyer is up in the air, Richardson has given the City Council permission to move forward with fixing the museum’s roof. Curator Cleave Reddick asked for the repair months ago.

The new roof will cost around $18,000, less than the $30,000 roof Reddick was hoping for.

“They didn’t want to put in the roof if they had a chance to sell on the building and replace it with a new museum,” Reddick said. “So far they have not been able to find anybody that wants to pay them enough to build us a new building, so they finally decided to fix the roof.”

Richardson said since the negotiations with the potential buyer was taking more time than expected, the city needed to protect what’s already at the museum.

“I encouraged the council to go ahead and re-roof the museum in case the option of building a new museum doesn’t go through, and in case it does go through but takes long, (so) that there’ll be no damage inside the museum,” Richarson said.

Reddick says the museum’s move could be a rough one because of work that has been done – like hand-painted wall murals in some of the exhibits. He isn’t opposed to a new museum, but he is content with the current one.

“We quite like this one,” Reddick said. “It would be nice to have a new building. Probably more energy efficient and get rid of some of the little weird musty smells that old museums have.”

Richardson said the city was approached a few months back by an entity interested in buying the property and developing for commercial use.

“That would add commercial taxes to the city and also offer us another entity for an expansion of our commercial area,” Richardson said. “It would be a good idea. The problem is there’s no way I’m losing a museum.”

The museum was appraised at $90,000 in its residential zone. Richardson said other commercial properties in town have sold for quadruple the amount of that price or more. As $90,000 isn’t enough to replace the museum, the mayor wants to essentially trade the old museum property for a new one. No city funds would be spent. The museum could be moved to an area near the south park rodeo grounds, which the city owns.

The Farnsworth TV and Pioneer Museum getting new roofing. | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

If the developer wants the current museum property, a new one would have to be built before moving out the exhibits in order to keep the museum running.

“We have a museum, and I want to keep our museum open,” Richardson said.

Richardson said the city would have input on the new building and the new venue would need to at least be the same size. The museum is currently taking up 7,000 square feet.

Richardson would also like to see a room that could be divided into three sections. It would have the ability to be opened up.

One section would have an exhibit to highlight local artists, the other a boardroom for city events and finally an overflow room for large City Council meetings.

“I foresee it as being something like a revolving exhibit to highlight local artists and local talent,” Richardson said.

This Saturday March 10, the museum will be hosting a free day from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.