MARTINSBURG, W.Va.—A children’s museum that opened in May in downtown Martinsburg no longer is open regularly on Saturdays and has had few visitors since it was dedicated, the board treasurer of the George Washington Heritage Trail Association said Friday.
“We didn’t have any attendance the first couple Saturdays,” Paul “Kim” Reid said of the For the Kids by George Children’s Museum.
“We’re operating on a shoestring at this point,” Reid said.
Reid said children and their parents who visited the museum Friday were turned away while he was there doing some administrative work, and added that he is sorry to have misled anyone about the center’s hours of operation.
Located in the city’s train station at 229 E. Martin St., the heritage-focused museum is part of an interpretive site for the Washington Heritage Trail, a 136-mile scenic byway that meanders through five 18th-century towns in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties. The trail incorporates more than 40 historical sites and tourist attractions in the three Eastern Panhandle counties.
In addition to a need for more volunteers, Reid said those who do step forward to help will have to be trained as museum docents. A team of four or five staff members is needed to host tours of the hands-on education center, Reid said.
Reid said he has been trying to engage senior citizens and others who have time to volunteer at the museum, and welcomes anyone who might be interested.
“We could use anybody that would show up,” Reid said.
Reid said there also is a need to do more publicity and educate the community about the museum’s presence. The museum has a presence on Facebook, but does not have a fully developed online website.
Since the dedication ceremony, work to form a subcommittee of the heritage trail association’s board has been done to oversee the museum’s operation, and a foundation is being set up to financially support the center, Reid said.
Reid said he would like to see endowment support eventually eliminate the need to sell tickets to tour the museum.
“We didn’t want to price ourselves out of the market,” Reid said of the museum’s $7 admission.
Given the museum’s current limitations, Reid said he encourages those interested in touring the museum to make arrangements to come with a large group.
Eight years in the making, the museum’s exhibits highlight George Washington’s ties to the Eastern Panhandle, the role of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and postwar industrialization.
The museum features a lifelike statue of a young George Washington paddling a canoe; a projection theater and 3-D map; train models and artifacts; a Lego model of 1920s-era streetscape; and a 3-D bike simulation theater that takes riders on the three-county heritage trail.
The museum was part of a multipronged plan to expand upon the use of the train station as Berkeley County’s interpretive site for the heritage trail, Reid said. Morgan and Jefferson counties also have interpretive sites for the heritage trail, Reid said.
Those interested in making reservations to tour the museum may call 304-264-9977 or contact them through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ForTheKidsByGeorgeMuseum.