STATEMENT OF DENIS P. GALVIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, HISTORIC PRESERVATION, AND RECREATION CONCERNING S. 1727, TO AUTHORIZE FUNDING FOR THE EXPANSION ANNEX OF THE HISTORIC PALACE OF THE GOVERNORS, A PUBLIC HISTORY MUSEUM LOCATED, AND RELATING TO THE HISTORY OF HISPANIC AND NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE, IN THE SOUTHWEST AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

March 8, 2000

 


Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on S. 1727, a bill to authorize funding for the expansion annex of the historic Palace of the Governors, a public history museum located, and relating to the history of Hispanic and Native American culture, in the Southwest and for other purposes.

The Department opposes the enactment of S. 1727. Our opposition does not detract from the significance of the Palace of the Governors as a structure and the collection it contains. We encourage New Mexico to continue to seek funding for the preservation and protection of the structure and collection, such as grants through the Millennium Initiative to Save America’s Treasures, and we would be happy to assist the staff of the State History Museum to apply for existing National Park Service preservation grant programs.

We appreciate the interest of the Museum of New Mexico in providing the highest level of care to the objects contained in its collection. However, we believe the use of limited National Park Service appropriations to fund grant programs for the design, construction, and operation of projects of this type at non-Park System locations is inappropriate. In essence, any funds used for this purpose would not be available to reduce the long list of necessary but deferred construction projects in our national parks. We are also concerned that authorizing the National Park Service construction funds for non-park purposes would undermine ongoing management reforms to rank funding needs in a five-year construction list.

S. 1727 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, subject to the availability of appropriations, to award a grant to the State of New Mexico to pay for a Federal share of the cost of the final design, construction, furnishing and equipping of the Palace of Governors Expansion Annex that will be located directly behind the historic Palace of Governors at 110 Lincoln Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Federal share of the cost for this project is 50 percent and a total of $15 million is authorized to be appropriated for use as grants, with the condition that the New Mexico State Legislature appropriates at least $8 million and other non-federal sources provide enough funds to provide a 50 percent match. Funds are to be used for final design, construction, management, inspection, furnishing and equipment of the Annex.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Palace of Governors was built in 1610 and is considered to be the oldest public building in continuous use in the United States. The adobe brick Palace was the first major structure in what became the city of Santa Fe. It served as the seat of government for nearly three centuries during Spanish, Mexican and American periods. Today the building and its grounds are part of the Museum of New Mexico and contain the State History Museum.

The historical significance of the Palace of Governors is well established, and we realize that the State History Museum contains a valuable collection relating to New Mexico history and prehistory. Current exhibit and storage facilities are inadequate and place the collection in danger. We realize that museum facilities throughout the country, including the New Mexico State History Museum, are in need of improved conditions to allow them to adequately protect and preserve the objects in their care. This situation is not unlike the condition of some collections within units of the National Park Service.

We remain willing to work with the Museum of New Mexico to apply for existing federal museum preservation and collection management programs, including matching grants through the Millennium Initiative to Save America’s Treasures. We would also be happy to provide any technical assistance, in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office, to determine ways to protect these cultural resources. However, due to the financial implications of the bill on national parks and park programs, we must oppose S. 1727.

This completes my statement. I will be pleased to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.