U.S. Marshals Museum begins to hire workers ahead of summer opening

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,396 views 

With a summer opening still on the horizon and an estimated $3 million needed for construction and operational needs, the Fort Smith-based U.S. Marshals Museum is starting the drive to hire employees who will be needed once the doors open to the public.

Museum staff posted a job announcement for a facility sales manager on social media and employment sites like Linkedin on Thursday (Jan. 26). Museum President and CEO Ben Johnson said more employment announcements will be posted in the coming days and weeks as museum administration seeks to fill positions before the museum opens in the summer. The museum employs eight, Johnson said. That number is expected to grow to 20 or more when it is time to open the doors.

“It depends on the interest and applicants we get. It depends on whether we have enough full-time or whether we will need to fill with part-time (employees),” Johnson said.

He said everything is still on track for the museum to open this summer, though he would not give an expected opening date.

“I’m still not comfortable giving a date yet. Once we have all the experience components here, and they start putting all that together, we’ll have a better idea of an opening day,” Johnson said. “We just want it open as soon as possible.”

Construction is ongoing, with much progress being made, in the exhibit space of the museum. The general contractor, Little Rock-based CDI Contractors, and the exhibit design team met earlier this week to make sure everything is on track for the exhibit shell, Johnson said. The general contractor, exhibit subcontractors and designers are continuing to meet and develop a “plan of attack” for getting the experiences all into the space and going as needed for the opening, he added.

“They have to make sure all the lighting, the HVAC and all the plugs are where they should be. There are hundreds of components all across the country making this happen,” Johnson said.

Experience – or exhibit – components should start moving into the space by the first of February. Between now and March, everything should be brought into the space and be ready for assembly. That assembly is expected to take 12 to 14 weeks, Johnson said.

When Johnson took over as the CEO of the museum in August, replacing Patrick Weeks, he said the museum needed to raise about $5 million to complete all the exhibits, the construction and to have some padding for operational costs. The Museum Foundation has been fundraising, and Johnson said the fundraising is going well.

“We still need about $3 million, but with a non-profit, the fundraising never really ends,” Johnson said.

Construction of the approximately 53,000-square-feet U.S. Marshals Museum was completed — except for exhibits — in early 2020. The facility is on the Arkansas River near downtown Fort Smith. 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, and museum officials initially hoped to have the facility open by late 2017.