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Renovations won't close all of Antietam visitors center

December 23, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

While the museum at the Antietam National Battlefield Visitors Center will be closed in January during an $80,000 renovation project, the lobby and other services will remain open.

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"We've moved most of the exhibits from the museum upstairs to the lobby for the duration," said Superintendent John W. Howard.

In addition to the lobby, visitors will still have access to the bookstore, the observation area and the theater, Howard said.

The biggest part of the renovations involves replacement of the aging elevator, Howard said. By Thursday, the old elevator had been removed.

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"It has a higher weight capacity and is easier to operate," Howard said of the new elevator to be installed. It will also be more handicapped accessible.

About $80,500 of the $160,000 in fee revenue from fiscal year 1999 is being used to refurbish the battlefield's museum, which will also be painted and its lighting upgraded.

The museum's artifacts are in worn 30-year-old cases that will be replaced, Howard said. New exhibits are also planned, including a display for the James Hope paintings, a three-paneled mural of the battlefield.

New carpet was installed last spring.

Four sets of limbers and caissons for an artillery exhibit near Dunker Church arrived in early summer, Howard said.

The remaining $23,000 in fee revenue was used to restore and paint the walls and fence of the National Cemetery.

Howard said the replacement of two wells is on hold until the water table around the battlefield improves. About $57,000 of that money was to be used to build and repair the battlefield's wood rail fences, to repair and restore 10 pieces of artillery and to complete a study of the National Cemetery.

"The new budget is the same as last year's, $1.9 million," Howard said.

The 2000 fiscal year that began Oct. 1 was described by Howard as adequate but with no increase.

Antietam's 1999 budget included $1.9 million for general operations, of which $160,000 was from fee revenue. About $1.1 million will be used for preservation and protection of the park's historic, cultural and natural resources.

Fee revenue is generated through admission charges. The park gets back 80 percent of admission charges, and the remaining 20 percent is used for parks that don't charge admission.

That means that for every $2 admission paid, $1.60 is returned to the park to enhance resource protection, education and visitor services.

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