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September 14, 2006

Stamford Advocate: Mort Walker’s Museum Out of Empire State Building


The Stamford Advocate reports that Mort Walker's National Cartoon Museum will not open up in the Empire State Building in Spring 2007 as planned. Walker claims that an expected deal to share ticket revenues and have the Empire State Building sell the museum's tickets fell through, making the move impossible. The iconic building's Peter Malkin says the deal was taken off the table once he noticed there was no progress made by the museum in inhabiting the space held for them.

In a sidebar to an article about the Master of Comics exhibit appearing tomorrow in Metro, Walker's son the historian and writer Brian Walker was asked about the National Cartoon Museum's current status, and he indicated that the Empire State Building probably wasn't happening. His full quote (a partial might appear in the Metro piece) as supplied to CR by writer Daniel Holloway.
"That [the Empire State Building] might not be the site anymore. We're looking for alternate sites. It's kind of a complicated situation. It basically gets down to economics. The fundraising is taking a little longer than we anticipated. So, we're actually looking at other sites, which actually kind of opened [things] up. We were so in love with the idea of a cartoon museum in the Empire State Building. We just didn't even think beyond that. But now people are coming to us and saying, 'Well, what about the South Street Seaport? What about getting into some kind of cooperative with another existing museum?' All kinds of interesting things have come up. But the city has given us a vote of approval. They've awarded us $1.8 million. Once we find the site, we can outfit the space."

What this sounds like to me is that construction was delayed because fundraising was slow, the ticket revenue sharing plan going down in flames effectively doomed the museum from going into the Empire State Building, and that although they started seeing other people the NCM may have lingered on in their relationship with the Empire State Building space in case something dramatic happened that allowed that specific dream to see fruition.

The Advocate piece notes that various problems the museum has had with its housing almost since the start, which makes one think that some creative thinking regarding location is necessary, emphasizing the Museum's chance for long-term success by not placing dramatic revenue needs on the institutions coming out of the gate.

ESB picture from the NCM site
posted 4:38 am PST | Permalink

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