YouZeum for sale after two years of operation

Thursday, June 10, 2010 | 4:47 p.m. CDT; updated 8:18 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 10, 2010

COLUMBIA — The YouZeum is for sale.

Columbia Public Schools discussed buying the YouZeum on June 3 during a closed session. School Board member Christine King said the board offered $750,000, and the YouZeum came back with a counteroffer of $900,000. The board has withdrawn from negotiations, according to a news release.

The YouZeum was expected to serve 60,000 visitors each year. From its opening May 1, 2008, to November 2009, however, it had only 37,415 paid visitors, according to a previous Missourian article. The news release stated that the YouZeum has had more than 40,000 visitors since it's opening.

The building at 608 Cherry St. is valued at about $6.5 million, according to a previous Missourian total. The YouZeum has faced financial troubles and was forced to cut its hours to two full days, totaling 20 hours a week.

In a news release, YouZeum Board Chairman Michael Szewczyk said the YouZeum has been in search of a “viable option” for the building for several months. The board of directors is currently discussing other suitable uses for the YouZeum building.

“A transfer of the YouZeum building and mission is a complicated process involving the Federal Department of Education, the YouZeum and the accepting educational institution,” Szewczyk said.

King said the board deliberated over whether this space was the best investment for the district.

“It really just came down to the money,” King said. “It really doesn’t fit all our needs.”

King said negotiations were complicated, and the board did not feel spending more than $750,000 was prudent.

Board member Jan Mees said the building would have been used for administrative offices and possibly for the district’s gifted program. Some of the YouZeum’s exhibits might have been left in place for students to access during field trips, Mees said.

“Although this was an enticing opportunity for us, it just wasn’t the right time or the right place,” Mees said.

According to the release, the YouZeum will remain open to the public for the summer.

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