Curators of the Hanford Carnegie Museum Promote Reviving Visitor’s Center

At the January 5 Hanford City Council study session, Hanford Carnegie MuseumCurator Patricia Dickerson and Museum Director Rob Van Wagoner made a proposal for the museum to restart the Hanford’s Visitor Center.

Van Wagoner said,”The enhanced visitor program would require $80,000 of funding this year to cover startup costs for the center.” Van Wagoner said the museum would seek to make the visitor program self-sufficient within about two years.

The Hanford Carnegie Museum and Visitor’s Center would be open to museum and city visitors Monday thru Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Their basic goal is to make information available to tourists about shopping centers, motels, events and attractions in English and Spanish, but with much more creativity and outreach than the previous center or what is available now.

The museum proposes to brand the city with the slogan “A step back in time,” Dickerson said.

She feels that the museum is just the thing to bolster tourism and serve visitors in Hanford.

The museum already has a website, along with a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram presence which links to other visitor resources. Dickerson said that social media is critical to running a successful Visitor Information Center; given the fact that 90% of Americans have immediate access to the internet, this is even more so for European and Canadian tourists. 94% of tourists use the internet to decide where to travel, live, work, and establish a business, she added.

A recent social media success story was when the museum used the many platforms to publicize its Flashlight Tour. They anticipated 100 guests; however,the tour received a sellout of 230 guests and had to turn away another 50 due to lack of space and time constraints.

The museum is already planning a variety of events and will host a tour of historic downtown Hanford on March 5.

“This will be one of the first walking tours we are bringing back that was done by the former visitor’s center,” Dickerson said. “The tour on March 5, 2016 will start at approximately 10:45am. We will visit the Hanford Carnegie Museum, Taoist Temple, Kings Art Center, Fox Theater and the Episcopal Church. Dave Jones is leading the tour and the Hanford Carnegie Museum are the hosts. The old tour guides were referred to as the ‘Showoffs,’ – we are changing the name to the ‘Hanford Carnegie Historians.’”

The Hanford City Council was encouraging of the museum’s efforts, but brought up the fact that there are already two organizations that perform many of the things in themuseum proposal. The two organizations, Main Street Hanford and the Hanford Chamber of Commerce, receive combined funding of more than $168,000 per year to promote tourism and attract Central Valley locals to Hanford.

According to the Hanford Sentinel, “Mayor Justin Mendes said the council will decide how to proceed with the Carnegie’s proposal, as well as the renewal of city agreements with Main Street Hanford and the Hanford Chamber of Commerce, during its goal-setting session later this month.”

The Carnegie Museum is located at 109 E. 8th Street. Its hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am-5pm. The museum conducts tours on Saturday, at 1pm and 2:30pm, or by appointment. To make an appointment, call 559 584-1367.

According to Dickerson’s presentation to the council, the museum is recognized as a leading resource for preserving the history of Hanford and Kings County. The museum, along with the Courthouse, Civic Auditorium and Bastille are easily recognized Hanford landmarks.

Dickerson said that Superior Dairy, Freddie the Fire Truck and the carousel set Hanfordapart from other communities. Their historic downtown business district and Civic Park conveys “A Step Back in Time.” Dickerson feels the historical themes will be even more of a draw for people to visit Hanford.

The museum is already the unofficial information center and is an ideal location for the new Visitors Center, Dickerson said. It is not uncommon for museum staff to provide information not only on the museum but to also give directions, answer question on where to eat, shop, be entertained and stay. They are often asked about taxi service, bus and limousine service, the Amtrak schedule, or RV parks.

One of Dickerson and Van Wagoner’s goals is to get a trolley similar to Visalia’s and link the future Costco Center with downtown and to Walmart. They would also like the trolley to provide after-hours transit to hotel guests and give special tours. Another goal is to set up a visitor’s booth at the Amtrak station.

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