HANNIBAL | The Hannibal History Museum is set to close within a few days due to financial shortfalls, but co-founder Ken Marks is pursuing multiple options for the museum's future.
Marks has approached agencies and fellow residents in town to help reverse the financial situation, with rent and utility costs at the current site at 200 N. Main St. rapidly outpacing donations and other funds. He will request assistance from the Bicentennial Committee this week for a legacy project that will help preserve aspects of Hannibal's 200th birthday and other glimpses into Hannibal's history. The museum's foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization — so all of the museum's items will remain secure, Marks said. However, unless the situation changes with an infusion of funds or a group of people steps he will begin moving large items out of the museum on Saturday.
“The museum doesn't have to be out of time, but I'm out of time,” Marks said.
Marks said the museum has served a unique role in Hannibal for years, beginning with an endowment and receiving donations from visitors. Marks and his wife, Lisa, always planned for the museum to be free of charge for everyone who stopped by to see the interactive exhibits and the Tom Sawyer dioramas that were once housed at 323 N. Main St. The museum's current financial status means the museum is in the process closing and could move to a new location.
“From what I've seen historically, it would be very difficult to regain the momentum if it's shuttered for a while and brought back — but that would be someone else's decision,” Marks said.
Marks said he was at the front desk of the gift shop for much of 2019. He would like to see others focus on social media outreach, event planning, exhibit construction and research for the museum.
Marks said the popular Big River Steampunk Festival will continue in 2020.
Throughout Hannibal's past, specific landmarks have become like the legacy project Marks will inquire about during the Bicentennial Committee's meeting. He mentioned Rockcliffe Mansion and said the Federal Building on Broadway reflected the legacy of Hannibal's sesquicentennial celebrations as residents enjoyed it until its closure. Marks hopes that the Hannibal History Museum will take on a similar role, offering information for tourists visiting Hannibal and growing with additional exhibits and stories to tell.
“There always seems to be a big gift from the community to itself that is institution like, that can be shared by everyone. This could be it for the bicentennial,” Marks said.
More information and donation opportunities are available by reaching out to Marks via Facebook Messenger on the Hannibal History Museum's Facebook page.