Route 66 museum likely will be in Tucumcari Convention Center

The City Commission of Tucumcari, N.M., on Thursday approved the use of the Tucumcari Convention Center as the future home of the New Mexico Route 66 Museum, according to an email from Richard Talley, owner of the Motel Safari in Tucumcari.

The museum’s board now will work on a lease agreement with the city.

Talley says the Convention Center contains 6,000 square feet of “move-in ready” space for exhibits and a gift shop. He also said:

The Tucumcari Convention Center is already home to the Route 66 Monument, a Route 66 Photo Exhibit and a Route 66 Interpretive Kiosk, as well as home to some of Tucumcari’s signature Route 66 events like the annual Mother Road Rally, Wheels On 66 and the New Mexico Route 66 Association’s annual NM Route 66 Motor Tour. We are very excited about our new facility and eager to begin the move-in process, as soon as the Lease Agreement has been approved, we are now one step closer to opening our state’s first New Mexico Route 66 Museum.

The New Mexico Route 66 Museum in Tucumcari in June had been officially incorporated and approved by the state of New Mexico as a nonprofit group.

The nearby town of Santa Rosa, N.M., also seeks to land a Route 66 museum in its historic Ilfeld Warehouse near downtown. But the city’s sudden and severe financial problems this summer due to a $1.2 million gross-receipts tax appeal makes that proposal less likely.

UPDATE 8/28/2012: The Quay County Sun newspaper in Tucumcari had some additional details, including an offer to house the museum in a proposed racetrack and casino, according to Warren Frost a member of the museum panel:

Frost said Don Chalmers and Coronado Partners, LLC., are on board with housing the museum at the race track and casino grounds. He said they offered to provide a 10,000-square-foot building at no cost.

Frost said Chalmers stressed to the group that he and the partners needed to see that the community showed an actual desire and commitment to this project — and not just a bare-bones museum with a few classic cars.

Frost said the immediate goal is to open a interim museum in the Fort Bascom and San Jon rooms at the Tucumcari Convention Center. He said the two rooms would serve as the museum and gift shop.

Commissioner Dora Salinas-McTigue asked if the committee would cover renovation costs for the two rooms, and was told that would be the case. […]

[Frost] said the city would receive 10 percent of the net proceeds from admission and gift shop sales, and the museum board would be formed with representatives from both the city and county.

No matter how attractive the offer, it would probably be wise to not house the museum at the racetrack, because such entanglements could make it difficult to recover artifacts if the racetrack went out of business. The horse-racing industry has been struggling in recent years, with no end in sight.

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