White Rock Lake Museum at Bath House Cultural Center. Photo by Renee Umsted.
Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Keep checking The Advocate for updates.
The City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture has asked the White Rock Lake Museum to leave its spot at the Bath House Cultural Center.
Intended to be a gift to the community for perpetuity, the museum has been in a converted storage space in the Bath House since 2004. It contains photos and informational text displayed on museum-grade panels, as well as a few objects.
Space for the museum was rented for $1 per year. Leases were signed consistently until 2017, when the museum was asked to vacate the space. The board ended up signing a new lease agreement with the City.
The Advocate reported the news in 2017 with a statement from the board of the museum:
“We came to an agreement of reconciliation and compromise by addressing the [Office of Arts and Culture, at the time Office of Cultural Affairs] wish to have the museum updated and agreed to put a lease agreement in place through December 2018 with the understanding the White Rock Lake Museum can stay intact as it was originally designed while an interpretative place for White Rock Lake is developed.”
Jennifer Scripps, the director of the Office of Arts and Culture, says the City now wants to use the space for other programs, such as art workshops, art exhibits and other “vibrant, active programs.”
The museum, which Scripps says has been well-loved by the community, was not provided the opportunity to renew its lease at the Bath House, and the Office of Arts and Culture has suggested that the exhibit be divided and placed at two nearby public libraries.
But Krista de la Harpe, the president and curator of the White Rock Lake Museum, says the exhibit, which tells the history of the lake, is cohesive, needs to stay at the lake and should not be separated.
The museum board has until March 25 to respond to the City’s suggestion to move the exhibit to the libraries.
Before Feb. 22, when De la Harpe was told the museum would be moved out of the Bath House, she had been meeting with District 9 City Council member Paula Blackmon and District 9 Park and Recreation Board member Maria Hasbany. They had wanted de la Harpe to consider moving the exhibit to the building at Sunset Bay.
De la Harpe says she visited the site and did not think it was a suitable alternative because of the historic structure and its features.
In a March 1 statement, the museum board said it would consider other locations for the exhibit based on four requirements: location at White Rock Lake; suitability for the displays, with space for art exhibitions; a sustainable plan for providing access to and security for the museum; and deferral of relocation until a plan is in place to ensure the museum’s long-term survival at the new location.
This topic is expected to be discussed at the March 8 meeting of the White Rock Lake Task Force. We’ll continue following this story.