Edison Hall to be returned to original educational facility concept, Beekley Art heads out the door (Photo: Kirkner)
After seven years of housing the Beekley International Collection of Skiing Art and Literature, the Mammoth Ski Museum is on the verge of a remodel that will relinquish the art collection and change the use of the building almost entirely.
Edison Hall, the building known as the location of the Mammoth Ski Museum and the offices of the Mammoth Lakes Foundation, will be turned back into an educational and cultural center if the remodel is approved by the Town. This was the original purpose of this building, which served as the first structure of Mammoth’s Cerro Coso Community College campus.
“We brought the Beekley collection here in 2003,” said Mammoth Lakes Foundation President and CFO Evan Russell. “It came from a private collector and was the first time it had been made public.”
Russell credits Mammoth Mountain Ski Area CEO Rusty Gregory with the idea of creating the Mammoth Ski Museum back then with this collection.
“We had hoped it would be an asset to the community but also that it would create a revenue source for the college. That hasn’t happened yet,” Russell said.
He claimed that while the community enjoyed the art collection, the items did not generate enough traffic to the museum, especially traffic that would be willing to pay for admission or purchase museum souvenirs once inside. Russell also pointed out that from the beginning the Museum had always hoped to find a larger space for the art since its current home only allows 5 percent of the collection to be on display at one time. That too has yet to happen. Therefore, the Mammoth Lakes Foundation has sent a letter of its intentions to the owners of the Beekley collection. Currently Russell does not know where the collection will end up once it leaves the Ski Museum.
“We think that the remodel will be a better, more sustainable use of the building,” Russell said.
The project will be tackled in three phases. MLF is currently working on obtaining permits to build a 100-seat theater that Russell hopes will not only give the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre (a DBA of the Mammoth Lakes Foundation run by Shira Dubrovner) a permanent home, but will also generate money through ticket sales. If approved, this first phase would take place this fall.
“We’ll also be able to save money by not renting space at the Mammoth Lakes Arts Center’s theater,” Russell added, a fee that was costing them $1,500 per month this year. “Really the deciding factor, theater-wise, was the control that would come from having our own space.”
The goal is to complete the theater by Dec. 1 so the MLRT can hold its production of A Christmas Carol there. The cost of phase one is expected to be between $30,000 and $40,000.
Phase two will be the creation of an art studio for students interested in painting, drawing and pottery, and phase three will create a teaching kitchen that would hold 20-25 students. These two phases will get underway in 2011.
The change is expected to dovetail with and stimulate the community’s idea of a Cultural Center. Russell hopes it can help fill the gap until the actual center can come online.
The Mammoth Ski Museum in Edison Hall will continue to celebrate the history of Mammoth, Eastern Sierra culture and Dave McCoy’s photography.
“We want to keep this local history in the museum and in place in the building,” Russell concluded.