Old Depot Museum back in business

Published 9:41 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

Now that the floodwaters are at bay, the curator of a local museum is working to reopen its doors as soon as possible.

Dave Benway, director and curator of The Old Depot Museum, 1010 Levee Street, is shooting to have the museum open by Saturday at 10 a.m.; however, he is not positive he will be able to get all the displays back up and running by then.

“It’s still pretty iffy,” Benway said. “We’ve got a few little details that have to be looked at and have not been completed yet. The fire alarm keeps going off.”

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Depending on his progress, he will decide Friday if he can open or if he will have to push the reopening until Monday.

“We’ll open Monday one way or another,” Benway said.

About 25 volunteers helped Benway when he had to break down each exhibit, train display and the battlefield diorama, he said. All the help and rush of the evacuation lead to a few pieces being damaged in the process.

Now Benway, with help from four others, is setting back up and trying to restore all the exhibits. He has worked 12 to 16 hour days for the past two weeks trying to get ready, and he said its been tough.

“We’re trying to get the glass around the displays and everything to fit again,” Benway said. “I’m going to try to have at least one railroad running — one out of the three. Two got torn up pretty good when we moved them.”

The Old Depot has been closed since Monday, Jan. 4 because of the impending flood that was set to put the museum underwater. Over time the crest predictions dropped and it was determined the museum would not take on any water allowing it to reopen.

While The Old Depot was closed, the contents of the museum were placed in four rented storage units. Everything had to be taken out of the bottom floor. Even the special heaters used to keep the three-story building warm were moved.

Benway doesn’t want to even think about having to move out again in the spring.

“I just don’t know what we’re going to do,” Benway said. “I know I’m not going to do this again. It’s just way too much, way too much for me. I’m hoping we don’t, but you never know.”

The Old Depot Museum is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.