City commissioners held a hearing Monday regarding funding the fifth year of the Nebraska City museum pass and the attraction's recovery from the Missouri River flood of 2011.
This year, the Museum Association is asking for $16,000 from the city's LB840 fund to ensure museums are open a minimum of three days a week and four hours a day. The pass allows Nebraska City residents to visit museums without charge.
The attractions nearly 20,000 visitors in the first two years of the pass program, but the totals dropped to 13,658 in 2011.
Brian Volkmer of the Nebraska City Museum Alliance said visitors began to pick back up when Interstate 29 opened in late September, but the damage had already been done in the four months it was closed.
“When the flood hit it basically put Nebraska City on an island. Visitation just trickled in,” Volkmer said.
Volkmer said he had hoped for more activity in 2012. He said while visitors from Omaha, Lincoln and Topeka are encouraging, people are making fewer long road trips.
Visitations reported last year are Lewis & Clark, 7,855; Mayhew Cabin, 2,233; Wildwood House, 1,094; Civil War GAR, 874; Firefighters Museum, 854; River Country Nature Center, 344; Old Freighters, 219; and Nelson House, 185.
Every attraction reported fewer visitors in 2011 compared to the prior year. Visitation in 2011 was still up from the 2009 totals.
Volkmer said the museum pass has been a success in terms of its goals of accessibility to local visitors and to encourage local residents to invite their out-of-town guests to tour the museums.
From 2009 to 2010, local visitors rose from 29 percent to 62 percent; and Nebraska City residents made up 52 percent of the visitors in 2011.
Out-of-town visitors made up more than 85 percent of the visitors in 2011 to Lewis & Clark, Mayhew Cabin and Wildwood House.
He said new events are planned at the museums to encourage locals to visit each year.
During the flood year of 2011, local visitors made up more than half of the visitors at the Nature Center and Firefighters Museum.