Due To Lack Of Resources, CNMI Museum Often Closed; Badly In Need Of Repair

Lone employee often can't be found

By Michael T. Santos 

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 14, 2016) – Disheartened residents and tourists are being turned away from the NMI Museum in the past couple of months due to severe cuts to its operational budget and personnel.

“I came here with my wife to take pictures and saw this building,” said tourist Hyung Seok Park. “The man working here said it’s a museum but it’s closed because of no workers. It’s a shame.”

Former NMI Museum executive director Robert Hunter said, “The museum is nearing 20 years now. Even back then, staffing was never adequate, but staff started to get cut around 2009-2010. Despite the cuts, the museum continued to operate full time. The remaining staff just took on more duties.”

“The historic Japanese hospital was never intended to be the permanent site for the museum. There are many facility issues inherent to a nearly 100-year-old building. The major problem with the facility is the foundation of the wing that was added on in the renovation. Significant settling of the wing has seen it split away from the original hospital, letting water in along the construction seam that runs the entire length. Originally, this problem was addressed with the renewal of a silicon seal along the seam every year or two, but further settling and uneven settling has prevented this. Because it is a foundation issue, it is a much more complicated and expensive problem to deal with,” Hunter said.

According to Hunter, the settling of the facility, flooding, and other facility-related issues (plaster cracking) has been going on almost since the inception of the museum.

“The museum is an important activity for our students, residents, and visitors, which is why some good potential plans are in the works for it. The possibility of the Marianas Visitors Authority relocating their visitor center to the museum grounds is one of these, but there are a lot of other organizations that have also offered some significant potential assistance,” said Hunter.

The museum is not closed per se; in fact, it is technically open. However, since there is only one employee, it all boils down to the availability of that employee. If he is not around, no one is there to open the building.

Saipan Tribune
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