Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

CELCAB reviews growth at the Mound House

October 31, 2018
By JESSE MEADOWS ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The museum at the Mound House has just finished its third year of operations, with attendance, revenue, and membership numbers on the rise.

The Cultural and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board met on Oct. 25 to review the 2017-18 fiscal year and discuss upcoming plans for the museum and Newton Park. In attendance were board members Lorrie Wolf, Betty Simpson, Barbara Hill, Ceel Spuhler, and Cynthia Richardson, Historical Advisor Bill Grace, and Mound House Director Allison Giesen.

The museum has seen an increase in memberships for the past fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30. There are currently 304 members from 149 households, and memberships can now be purchased or renewed online. Eleven new volunteers have also joined the Mound House's roster, rounding out the total number to 35, and volunteer hours are up by 300.

"We are very excited to welcome additional volunteers," Allison Giesen said.

This year, the Mound House was awarded a highly competitive Arts and Attractions Grant of $12,500 from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which Giesen noted was the most they had ever received. She also updated the board on the pending status of their application to the National Register, which would officially recognize the Mound House as an archeological site.

"It's something everybody has waited a very long time on," she said.

Revenue is on an upswing, with admissions up by $6,882, programs and tours up by $15,921, and membership up by $778. Newton Park revenue is also growing, with classes up by $970 and rentals up by $2,000.

Attendance is up by 1,952. Giesen noted that Hurricane Irma affected the visitor count last year, but added that she was pleased with the growth in spite of challenges presented by the weather and the ongoing construction on Estero Boulevard.

Barbara Hill said that their numbers are following a pattern typical of other fledgling museums, with initial enthusiasm high in the first year, a dip in the second year, and a rebound in the third.

The museum has seen a significant public response to its guided kayak tours, which are kept small to give visitors a better experience.

"People really enjoy that there are only 12 paddlers per tour. You can really experience it in a more intimate setting," Giesen said.

Ceel Spuhler pointed out that there is currently all new stock in the museum's gift shop, such as pins, stickers, magnets, and reusable bags. "We are going to get coffee cups in, and T-shirts that have been designed with some of the symbols of the Calusa," Giesen said.

She also noted that the Art Calusa book was selling so well that it had to be reordered twice. The book documents an exhibition of Calusa art that traveled the state through 2016. A copy was sent to Tom Torgerson to share with the design team for the Margaritaville development project.

"We'll see where it goes from there," Hill said.

Plans for Newton Beach Park are also on the horizon. The board decided that a community roundtable facilitated by Lorna Kibbey would be a necessary next step to gather public opinions, with a tentative date scheduled in late January.

A Christmas Market is scheduled for Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will serve as a fundraiser for the Friends of the Mound House. The museum will be offering free admission, and vendor booths will be available for a fee of $60. Anyone interested in being a vendor is encouraged to call the Mound House.

In her closing comments on the museum, Giesen added: "The muhly grass is beautiful right now. Come out and see it."



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web