CUBA CITY—The City of Presidents is exploring the creation of a presidential museum to attract tourists and provide an economic boost to the community.
The steering committee consists of Cuba City Economic Development Director Bob Jones, City of Presidents President Donna Rogers, Cuba City alderwoman Connie Gronemus and citizen Ruth Ann Summers. The group is exploring all options for the potential museum in Cuba City.
The presidential theme was chosen for a number of reasons. It supports the city’s motto, “City of Presidents.” It would be the only museum in the United States that features all 45 presidents. Also, history is a strong tourism draw to the area as five past presidents have made their homes within a four-hour drive of Cuba City.
The steering committee presented research from other local museums, which average at least 10,000 visitors each year. The National Brewery Museum in Potosi sees an average of 70,000 visitors each year; the Dickeyville Grotto has 50,000 visitors annually; the National Mississippi River Museum averages 236,000 visitors annually; and Galena draws more than 1 million visitors to its historical attractions.
“Cuba City has a population of 2,086, which is bigger than both Potosi and Dickeyville,” Rogers said. “This increase in tourism would lead to greater awareness of the City of Presidents.”
Jones said the committee conservatively estimates at least 5,000 people would visit each year. The economic impact from these visitors would be seen through food, gas and retail sales at local businesses. He said the Wisconsin Department of Tourism reports that visitors typically spend an average of $58 when visiting for the day, and $184 if spending the night.
The museum would feature artifacts borrowed from other museums and private collections. Two United States presidents—one from the modern era and one from earlier years—would be featured on a rotating basis. The museum would also have interactive computer displays with information on all of the presidents. A gift shop featuring souvenirs would also be located at the museum.
There is no specific location determined for the presidential museum, although several options are being considered.
The group hopes to raise $125,000 in the next six months. Donations will be pursued through grants, fundraising events, donation buckets located in local businesses and private donations from businesses, organizations and individuals. To make a donation, send checks payable to Cuba City Presidential Museum, Inc., to 108 N. Main St., Cuba City, WI 53807.
With the support of donors and volunteers, the museum could be operating as early as May 2019.
“We are building a committee of volunteers to assist with marketing, historical research and other aspects,” Rogers said.
Volunteers are needed to be on the board of directors as well as several committees, including: marketing and communication, operations, finance, information technology, collection of artifacts, business planning and grant research, facility management, gift shop operations, history and research and work in the museum once it opens. Contact one of the steering committee members to volunteer or attend the next meeting at 3 p.m. on July 11 at City Hall.
The mission of the presidential museum is: “To preserve and share Cuba City history as well as the legacy of all the U.S. presidents with the purpose of attracting, educating and inspiring the public.”