Nonprofit hopes to return to Old Mint to carry out museum plan
- Published: Mar 31, 2015, 12 PM
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society may be vacating the Old Mint this summer at the City of San Francisco’s behest, but its president hopes it won’t be a permanent move.
The dramatic arts production group that will use the Old Mint as a theater venue beginning Sept. 1 (the historical society must vacate by Aug. 1) will inhabit the facility on a short-term basis, according to the termination letter from the city to the historical society, and Kevin Pursglove, president of the historical society’s board of directors, believes that a request-for-proposal will go out to seek ideas for what tenant would come next.
Pursglove hopes it will be his organization. Again.
“We’ll be actively participating,” he said. “We’re pretty confident that we can be very competitive in that process."
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society began occupying the Old Mint in 2003, right after the U.S. Government Service Administration sold the building to the city for $1. The historical society planned to turn it into a San Francisco history museum, a part of which would celebrate the history of American coins and the Gold Rush.
“We feel that we’re still in the ballgame and we can still be a key player in the use of the Mint as museum,” Pursglove said.
Officials at the nonprofit are indeed disappointed to be leaving, according to Pursglove, but were given notice that the termination was a possibility and were not shocked by the city’s letter.
“We knew at some point we would have to regroup and re-strategize about how we were going to get in to the next round of fundraising,” Pursglove said.
The president of the board does not see the historical society’s renovation efforts up to now as being made in vain because they expect another crack at a lease in a couple of years.
If that were not the case, and a more permanent tenant was being sought or found, Pursglove said, "then we would really be second guessing what our next steps would be."
Funds have been raised for the museum project through regular tours of the building and area, private building rental (which has been discontinued), a notable coin auction, and even a commemorative coin program.
The United States Mint struck 2006 gold and silver commemorative coins for sale to collectors, who paid surcharges totaling nearly $5 million that went to The Mint Project, an effort at forming public exhibits at the Old Mint.
Approximately $14 million had been raised by the historical society as of May 2014. Pursglove said the goal is to up that total to around $40 million.
Donald Kagin, professional numismatists and president of Kagin’s Inc., has been a stalwart supporter of a money museum finding a home at the Old Mint. And though he has served on the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society’s board of directors, he was not on the whole troubled by the news of the lease termination.
“Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world to bring in new ideas and people to come up with ideas to renovate the building,” Kagin said.
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society will continue to operate even after it leaves the Old Mint this summer. Pursglove said temporary office space is currently being sought, and donations are still certainly welcome.
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