Hassan Najjar, the museum’s executive director, and Dr. Bill Seymour, the college’s president made the joint announcement at the museum Friday.
“I think we’re doing something very unique here,” Seymour said before delving into the specifics of the partnership.
Beginning this fall, faculty, staff and students of the college can show their college IDs to receive admission to the museum. They will have access to some of the same benefits offered to paying members of the museum, including members-only events and discounts on events that call for an extra charge beyond the price of admission.
In addition, the spouses and children of faculty, staff and students can also visit for free, which Seymour said would be a good benefit to students with families because it could provide an opportunity for those families to share in what the student is learning.
The Museum Center’s collection generally revolves around the history and culture of the Ocoee region, with occasional temporary exhibits that showcase artifacts from elsewhere like one set to arrive in January 2015, that will include Biblical-era artifacts from Judea and Samaria.
Conversations about the relationship between the college and the museum began this spring and led to discussions of how they could help local students see the value of local history by increasing access to the museum.
“We saw a lot of similarities in our missions,” Najjar said. “We didn’t want any barriers to access.”
Dr. Denise King, Cleveland State’s vice president of academic affairs, also spoke after the announcement was made to share how she saw the partnership impacting some of the classes at Cleveland State.
With the admission costs already taken care of, any faculty members can use the museum for class visits and incorporate the contents of both the permanent and temporary exhibits into their lesson plans.
King said what the museum offers would not just be a good resource to those who teach history classes, but to those who teach subjects like art, music and education.
Najjar said he liked the idea of the exhibits at the museum being used “what they’re meant for” — teaching.
The college will be working with the museum to identify other educational opportunities for both those at the college and the general public, Seymour said.
He explained that the new partnership will also have the college renting space at the museum for events that could include special speakers related to topics addressed in the museum’s exhibits.
Both Seymour and Najjar declined to say how much money has been exchanged to provide those at the college with no-cost admissions.
Najjar said he and Seymour met and decided on a “set negotiated price” based on estimates of how many visitors the museum could receive. Seymour said the money came out of the college’s budget for campus programming and events.
The museum normally charges $5 for an adult admission, $4 for seniors and students and nothing for children younger than 5. Annual memberships start at $35 for one person.
The partnership was described as a one-year experiment, and Najjar said the museum would be keeping records of how many new visitors walk through its doors to judge how it might look in future years.
Seymour said the partnership is an example of the college’s “community first mindset,” and he was “very thankful” for the opportunity for Cleveland State to partner with the museum.
After the semester begins with the first day of classes on Monday, he said he expects the staffs of the museum and the college to continue to find new ways to make the most of what both have to offer.
“We’re very excited about this partnership,” Seymour said.