Coryell Museum still struggling to bounce back after COVID shutdown

Posted at 7:17 PM, Feb 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 20:17:05-05

GATESVILLE, Texas — If you were to stop by the Coryell Museum and Historical Center a few years ago, you would have found children on class trips, local residents learning about their communities past, and even visitors from out of town. But since the pandemic, everything has changed.

The museum shut down for just four months back in 2020, but the effects of that is still being felt more than two years later.

"Having the kids come through, well they always wanted to come back and bring their parents with them or their grandparents," Board President Ervin Adams said. "That helps traffic coming into the museum, so that's definitely affected us. We haven't had as many out-of-town visitors or local visitors since covid."

It's not just the visitor log that's seen a decrease, the museum also lost roughly a third of their volunteers and no one has shown interest in replacing them.

"It's hard to find people who want to volunteer to do anything now and because of that, we have trouble too," Volunteer Coordinator Jann Dworsky said.

Dworsky has been volunteering at the museum for the last 15 years. She said people don't know what they're missing out on.

"Getting to see all the stuff in the museum, that's our pay. You get to see all the stuff for free and you get to know all the stuff and each other," Dworsky said. "We're kind of a volunteer family and we really enjoy other."

As that family loses more and more members, the museum is struggling to stay open.

"We were open Tuesday through Saturday before. Since the pandemic, we lost a lot of volunteers and haven't been able to replace them, we're closed on Tuesday now," Adams said. "We're open fewer days of the week, we haven't been able to come back from that. We're barely able to be open the days we are open now."

Having reduced hours, fewer volunteers and fewer visitors also means the museum has been seeing a drop in donations.

"It takes a lot of money to operate this museum," Membership Committee Chair Cathy Taylor said. "When covid came along, we lost members. We just need an avenue to try to get memberships again. They help pay for the building. We have quite a few expenses with our utilities and the upkeep."

The museum is free to visit and donations are optional. Volunteers encourage people to stop by and drop off some change if they feel they learned something new.