GoFundMe campaign launched for U.S. Marshals Museum

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 967 views 

Updated rendering of the planned U.S. Marshals Museum under construction in Fort Smith.

A GoFundMe campaign to raise $2 million has been established to pay for production of “guest experiences” at the U.S. Marshals Museum and help close the gap on $15.3 million needed to complete the facility.

USMM Foundation President Jim Dunn said the campaign was created in response to requests about how to help with fundraising. Redwood City, Calif.-based GoFundMe keeps 2.9% of donations. From 2010 to 2017, the online platform raised more than $5 billion through more than two million campaigns.

“As we’ve educated the community about the Museum, one of the things we’ve heard over and over again was the desire to help with donations, but not be encumbered with any type of tax. This provides that opportunity for anyone interested in helping,” Dunn said in a statement.

According to museum information, there are five sections of the museum experience: To Be a Marshal, The Campfire: Stories Under the Stars, Frontier Marshals, A Changing Nation, and Modern Marshals. The museum also plans to include a monument from the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma, a National Learning Center, a Hall of Honor, retail space, and a cafe.

“The experience will be transformative, moving, and engaging, grounded in story and emotion. The galleries will show what it means to be a Marshal, what their duties are today, and how those duties have evolved. There will be stories and lore about the colonial days, the Old West, the Civil Rights Movement, and the modern Marshals,” according to the museum press release announcing the GoFundMe campaign.

In January 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the site for the national museum. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in September 2015 on a site near the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith, and museum officials initially hoped to have the facility open by late 2017. Fundraising delays pushed the opening date of the estimated 50,000-square-foot facility to September 2019.

A call for a sales tax came after fundraising efforts fell short of closing the gap. Fort Smith voters on March 12 rejected a one-cent, nine-month sales tax that would have raised an estimated $16 million for completion of the museum. At the time, the museum had raised enough money – $35.5 million – to pay for construction of the facility, which began in July 2018. The remaining funds were needed to build the exhibits and “experience” of the museum.

The museum is set to dedicate the building and the Hall of Honor Sept. 24, the 230th anniversary of the Marshals service. The goal is to open the museum late 2020, museum officials have said.

“This campaign strongly positions the Museum to continue production efforts in a timely manner. We are launching this effort in hopes that individuals and corporations both in the Fort Smith community, as well as across the country, will join together to make sure the guest experience is developed sooner rather than later,” Dunn said.

As of Tuesday (April 23) evening, five people donated a combined $1,415. Link here to view the donation page.

The U.S. Marshals Museum recently received $1 million from Northwest Arkansas-based real estate investor Laurice Hachem, who is also a member of the foundation board.

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