MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 3, 2013

OKC Memorial & Museum stay open


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum won’t have to close because of the federal government shutdown, museum officials said Wednesday.

Kari Watkins, the museum’s executive director, said the project that honors victims and survivors of the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City is run by a private nonprofit foundation. The foundation receives no operating funds from city, state or federal governments and costs are covered by admissions, museum store sales, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and other private fundraising efforts as well as earnings from an endowment.

“Ironically it was the last government shutdown in 1995-96 that caused our governing body to look at maintaining private ownership of this special place and not leave it to others to determine whether or not we could be open for the public to learn the senselessness of violence and the tenderness of the response to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995,” Watkins said in a statement.

“This has allowed us to maintain the Memorial and Museum to a standard set very high by our community and we are proud of the structure we have maintained.”

The April 19, 1995, bombing killed 168 people and injured hundreds more in downtown Oklahoma City.

Watkins said National Park Service rangers who normally help visitors are not on site because of the shutdown. In their absence, memorial staff and volunteers will talk to visitors and meet with tour groups.

Visitors can also use the memorial’s cellphone tour or download a walking tour podcast.

The memorial is open 24 hours a day and the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.