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Titanic Exhibit Brought In The Guests

11/29/2016 6:21:22 p.m. - Hobbs, NM. The Western Heritage Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame knocked it out of the park again. Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibit, was another success for the museum.

At the most recent meeting of the New Mexico Junior College board, Darrell Beauchamp, executive director of the museum, provided figures from the exhibit that might be envied by museums in much larger venues.

During the 104-day run of the exhibit, Beau-champ said, 35,362 people signed the visitor's register. That number exceeded the goal of 24,000 visitors hoped for when the exhibit opened in July, but if the number of tours people took were to be counted, the number of visits would be closer to 40,000. That's because some people went through the exhibit more than once on the same day.

The 35,362 figure exceeded the goal of doubling the number of people who saw the T-Rex dinosaur exhibit in 2014, Mary Lyle, director of education at the museum said.

"I think something more than 12,000 may have seen the dinosaur exhibit," she said. "We were hoping for 25,000 for Titanic, and we more than made it."

In his report, Beauchamp said visitors from 337 towns, 41 states and Washington, D.C. and 11 foreign countries recorded their attendance at Titanic. They bought $203,453 worth of merchandise in the museum store and paid $48,000 in admission fees as well as donating $13,653 to the museum. The museum also sold $15,000 worth of memberships during the exhibit.
Just exactly how much of that income will be profit is as yet unclear, although Beau-champ said Monday that it was "enough to pay the bills. We'll come out all right. But an exhibit is not about making money. It's about providing an opportunity for lots of people to see something and learn something they might not have another opportunity to see and learn." Almost 8,000 high school students from nine high schools had that opportunity, along with students from five middle schools and 19 elementary schools, Beauchamp said.

"And we know of more than 200 hotel room nights used locally by people attending the exhibit," he said.

Lyle said she knows of one group of visitors who came from south Texas for the sole purpose of seeing the Titanic exhibit.

"Other groups came from Albuquerque, and one was traveling through Seminole and came over here to spend the night and see the exhibit. One got here and saw the exhibit and heard about the Willie Nelson concert and spent the night here. The exhibit generated a lot of business in Hobbs," Lyle said.

Lyle said the exhibit broke several records.

"For one thing, our venue was the smallest one the exhibit had ever been in. And of course, it broke attendance records for our museum," she said.

She said the museum had to make some adjustments to accommodate the visitors.

"We had to add some workers and more than 100 people worked almost 1,000 volunteer hours. And we stayed open longer hours and seven days a week," she said. "And then, there was the generosity of the J. F Maddox Foundation and (NMJC) and the city. They made it possible for people to see the exhibit for the price of admission to the museum. In Lubbock, people had to pay to get into the museum and then pay an $18 up-charge, so it cost more than $20 to see the exhibit."
Lyle said the exhibit was easier to take down than to put up. "It's nearly always easier to strike the set than it is to build it," she said. "The company sent its people here and they knew how to pack things and we hired some movers."

Currently, she and other paid workers and volunteers are preparing for the Christmas Traditions Around the World, an exhibit of more than 45 highly decorated Christmas trees and memorabilia.

"Are we worn out? Do we need a vacation? Yes, but we are so happy that Titanic was such a success and so happy to be doing Christmas Traditions again," Lyle said.

Dorothy N. Fowler can be reached at 575-391-5446 or education@hobbsnews.com.

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