A county museum in southeast Kansas that faced tight budgets closed this week with the resignation of its only staffer, who was unpaid.
Director and curator Mark Dulek, who has worked on a volunteer basis since 2012 for the Crawford County Museum, officially submitted his resignation Wednesday and handed over the keys to the County Commission, The Joplin Globe reported.
Dulek said he was the only remaining member of the 75-year-old Crawford County Historical Society, which owned the majority of the contents in the museum. The building and land is owned by the commission and was leased to the society on a 99-year contract for $1 per year.
Visitors to the museum have declined in recent years. Dulek said he thought that was because it was open only on weekends and Fridays, when he could find someone else to volunteer. Dulek makes his living as a substitute teacher for Pittsburg schools Monday through Friday.
Dulek said about $1,000 a month is spent on utilities and insurance for the building because of its age and size. The facility is around 14,000 square feet.
He said a lack of manpower and too little funding makes it nearly impossible to organize, catalog and care for artifacts; to keep the building open more days; and to maintain it.
“I’m just willing to walk away from it,” he said. “I personally don’t own it, and the backlash would be tremendous if I did anything with the artifacts. I’m giving it back to the county. At least we left it better than we found it. I gave it my best shot.”
Because he’s the only member of the historical society, it will dissolve, he said.