Money Tight, the Dallas Historical Society Now Needs to Charge Admission to the Hall of State

InsideHallofState.jpg
Flickr user: Whatknot
At present, the Hall of State in Fair Park is closed to the public whilst it breaks down the "Texas!" exhibit that went up in time for, and lingered well after, the State Fair of Texas and attracted some 120,000 visitors during its run. But when it reopens at the beginning of the year, there will be a major change in store for visitors to the landmark building constructed for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936: You will now have to pay to walk through its heavy bronze doors.

Not all the time, not for every event. But one week from tomorrow, the Dallas City Council will vote to alter its long-standing management agreement with the Dallas Historical Society, allowing the DHS to charge $4 for adults, $2 for children. The reason, says DHS Executive Director Jack Bunning: "the economy." For starters.

"Not only the general economy, but as more and more park-wide events happen out here at Fair Park, we are having to spend a lot more on security, supplies, etc., so we need to find a way to recoup some of that because of the economy," he tells Unfair Park. "We will work with some of the larger events -- marathons, Irish Fest, Taste of Dallas, Earth Day -- which are using our building, and there will be free admission. And for Fourth of July and the tree lighting, depending on how it works, we'll offer greatly reduced prices or make it free. But we needed to have the ability to charge based on the economy being tough and donations being down."

The agreement the council's scheduled to vote on does state the Dallas Historical Society "will provide free admission to the Hall of State for Dallas residents for one day a week." Right now that one day will be Thursday, from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Also, says the council agenda item, "Any future adjustments to the admission fee to reflect inflation, additional programs or specific fees required for temporary exhibitions, or changes in the free day would be coordinated with and approved by the Office of Cultural Affairs."

Bunning says there will be some bonuses added to the structure to, you know, justify the admission fee -- like, say, cases filled with items from the DHS's collection, sort of "super-mini-exhibits." And the DHS is going to install some interpretative signage for those on the self-guided tour, and not a moment too soon. The fee, he says, will take effect the moment the council OK's it next week.

"We'll look at the calendar to see how we'll do this, and it will vary by event," he says. "If some events use or don't use the building or want us to be free, we'll see." But on most days, he says, "We will charge up to the amount to recoup some of our expenses."

Speaking of money: While I had Bunning on the phone, I asked him about those long-standing plans to reissue the out-of-print Dallas Rediscovered: A Photographic Chronicle of Urban Expansion 1870-1925, about which he and I last spoke two long years ago. And, sure, it's still very much a priority. But without the money ...

"We're still trying to find the money to do it," he says. "And part of the issue is, it was done before the newest technology, let's say, so what we'd want to do is re-edit it. We're not sure we even have the files electronically. So that's where we're starting. Money's tight, and for somebody to fund that, it's not high on their list. It's high on our list. We are perhaps going to get some interns in here to maybe start typing stuff out and reading it over for where updates might happen. We also don't know how much any of it would cost."
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12 comments
madmonk
madmonk

It is an amazing building. And one of the coolest things to see for free in Dallas. They don't make em like that anymore. It will still be there when the rest this city is falling to pieces. Check it out, unless you don't care about architecture, in which case I wonder why you are here in the first place.

camarillobrillo
camarillobrillo

They need to put a Starbucks in there. Maybe, even a In-n-Out. 

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I see Fair Park dying.   The Woman's Museum, the Train Museum, the Music Hall.   Dallas just can’t get things right.    Thank you city council, city staff,  and the DCC!

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

And this ends anyone ever visiting the Hall of State on purpose again.

DD
DD

Visiting the Hall of State is easily worth 4 bucks.

cp
cp

I loved watching the Hall of State set as the police department in "Chase". Miss that show...

Guest
Guest

And that was the last time anybody went into the Hall of State.

Doug in DFW
Doug in DFW

Think of it as a paywall for history!

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Can't they just scan the pages to PDF? Even Adobe Acrobat has Optical Character Recognition, which makes the text editable. They can then self-publish the book electronically using https://www.createspace.com/

Gabe
Gabe

Bull-pucky. I would have paid four bucks for that Texas exhibit. More exhibitions of that quality, I'm in.

Also, how great a word is bull-pucky. It has such a lovely sound, almost onomatopoeic.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

When I was at Hall of State for the John Lithgow event a few weeks ago, I was seated with a group of folks who'd never been in Hall of State. Then one person said, "This place looks familiar. I think I've seen it on TV." I said, "Chase, maybe?" Her eyes lit up.

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

no one likes getting nickel and dimed at Fair Park if you can't get a corny do to assuage the pain....

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