National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Making music at the Ashville festival, Blue Ridge Parkway
Mississippi River Visitor Center

Description: The Visitor Center, Mississippi National River & Recreation Area, is located in 2,200-sq. ft. of the Science Museum. Space is leased through a GSA contract. Admission to the NPS facility is free. Attendance at the Science Museum exceeds 800,000 visitors each year. Visitor Center exhibits/displays are being designed by the Science Museum staff with substantial involvement from the NPS and our partners.

Funding sources included government, foundations, and private sector support. The McKnight Foundation provided $500,000 for the Visitor Center.

The Partnership includes providing funding for exhibits in the Science Museum's major Mississippi River Gallery and outdoor park.

The Visitor Center, which opened in August 2003, will feature information about the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MISS) and its partner sites, the Mississippi River watershed, and access to information on all units of the National Park system.

Geographic area covered: The Visitor Center is located in the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. The MISS encompasses a 72-mile stretch of the river through the St. Paul/ Minneapolis metropolitan area.

List of Partners and Relationships: The Science Museum of Minnesota (primary partner), the Jefferson National Parks Association and the National Park Foundation (secondary partners), and dozens of sites operated by the state, county, city and regional park systems within the boundary

Accomplishments to date: Obtained funding from multiple sources for the exhibits in the Gallery and for the construction of the Visitor Center. Construction of the Visitor Center. Grand opening events, many sponsored by partners, throughout the river corridor.

Key success factors:

  1. The Science Museum officials valued the NPS as a partner in the planning and development of their facility, and waited 3 years for funding for this partnership. The Science Museum opened their $100 million facility in December 1999 with 2,200-sq. ft. of unfinished space reserved for the NPS facility.

  2. Creative financing with funds used from the sale of a former Bureau of Mines property, donations, and other sources
  3. Perseverance and not giving up when several funding sources fell through.
  4. Select the right personalities for coordinating the group.
  5. Strong partnering skills, creativity and leadership from Division Chiefs and staff.
  6. The partnership was clearly defined in an addendum to the Area's Comprehensive Management Plan, recommended by the Governor and approved by the Secretary of the Interior in 1996.

Frustrations:Funds for the Visitor Center were in the President's Budget in FY 98 but were removed from the final appropriations bill. Legislation was passed that provided the authority for the NPS and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to keep the funds from the sale of the former Bureau of Mines property within the Twin Cities. Negotiations for the sale of the property took over two years until the potential buyer pulled out after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. This funding source would have funded the Visitor Center in the Science Museum and another partnership center in Minneapolis.

Most important lessons learned to date:

  1. If parties/organizations truly believe in the partnership and the added value that it brings, most obstacles can be overcome.

  2. Partners have timelines. If NPS resources are not available within the timeline needed to accomplish the partnership, it can be a lost opportunity.

What would you do differently next time:Identify nongovernmental sources of funding as possibilities for funding partnership visitor centers in the development stage of the Comprehensive Management Plan. Pursue nongovernmental sources of funding early in the process and depend less on federal funding.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study):
Amendment to the Comprehensive Management Plan for the MISS. www.mississippirivervisitorcenter.com
www.nps.gov/miss
www.smm.org

For more information:

Name: JoAnn Kyral
Affiliation: Superintendent, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
Phone/Fax: 651-290-4160
Email/website: joann_kyral@nps.gov

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvements__; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources __; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism _X_; Community Relations _X_;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: JoAnn Kyral Date posted: 8/7/03
Phone: 651-290-4160

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