GALVESTON

The Galveston County Historical Museum’s long journey to reopening is again on an unclear trajectory after the firing of the museum’s manager.

Galveston County Chief Financial Officer David Delac fired Jennifer Wycoff on June 27.

Wycoff, who was hired by the county in 2014, was charged with reopening the museum that has been closed since Hurricane Ike struck in 2008.

As of Wednesday, there was no clear date for when the museum would reopen, Delac said. The museum’s reopening will require a commitment from county commissioners, he said.

“I think it’s in a good state,” Delac said. “I want to make sure that they’re on board with everything that needs to transpire for it to get to an opening date.”

Wycoff did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. In a text, she said she was dealing with a family member’s medical issue. Delac declined to comment specifically on her performance as the museum’s manager.

Some of the signs of discord at the museum were apparent, however. Delac corrected a statement calling Wycoff the museum’s director and curator — a title that was on her business cards — and insisted her job title was museum manager.

Delac also said he had no information about a display that had recently appeared in the lobby of the museum claiming parts of the museum were 85 to 90 percent completed.

The museum, on the bottom floor of the county courthouse, 722 21st St., has not opened to the general public since it moved into a former jury assembly room in November 2014.

The museum’s previous building in downtown Galveston flooded badly during Hurricane Ike. While none of the county’s artifacts were damaged by the storm, the building was unusable.

On Wednesday, the museum space was still a work site. While some exhibits appeared to be nearly complete, such as displays about The 1900 Storm and Galveston Island corner stores, other parts of the museum were empty or half done.

The space appears to be in the same condition it was in October 2018, when Wycoff told The Daily News the museum could be opened at the start of 2019.

That didn’t happen, and the county has made no announcements about the museum in the months since then.

Delac planned to work with the two part-time employees who still work at the museum to develop a timeline for reopening and would present a budget to commissioners sometime this summer, he said.

The county plans to approve its next annual budget sometime in September, he said.

It’s not clear whether the county plans to hire a new manager for the project, which could depend on what commissioners choose to do with the department.

Last year, the county adopted a $183,127 budget for the museum. It was later amended and increased to about $222,000, Delac said.

The leader of one group closely connected to the museum said he hoped the county would continue to support it.

Ralph Stenzel, the chairman of the Galveston County Historical Commission, which raises money for the museum and other projects around the county, said he did not want to comment about Wycoff’s firing.

“I think that the county needs a museum,” he said. “I know that Jennifer has spent four years trying to get it open.”

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(3) comments

David Hardee

Another government fiasco! Find a private group that will take it over or sell/auction the "artifacts/stuff" to the local entrepreneurs for exhibiting in their establishment. Budget last year $2222,000.00? Closed in 2009 since IKE. Thats 10 years. How much money over the 10 years was spent? Hired in 2014 to complete job. Thats 5 years ago. Not open and don't know when it will. Hope to keep the public money coming for EVER or until when.

David Smith

You're right.. sounds fishy.. Ike was over a decade

Bailey Jones

Why was it closed? Why hasn't it reopened? What is the plan? Where is the staff? Where does the money go? What are the exhibits? There's not much info here.

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