Escondido, CA

Last minute effort to save Roynon museum fizzles: but may not be dead

Sometimes we don’t appreciate something precious until it is gone—or nearly gone. That appears to be the case with the Roynon Museum of Earth Science & Paleontology on Grand Avenue.

When the museum announced in May it would be closing at the end of June suddenly people began turning out in their hundreds to get one last look at what has become one of the most beloved institutions in the city. That meant some new ready cash that hadn’t been seen in a while at the museum was coming in thanks to new paying customers.

Last week a Go Fund Me page was set up and was advertised on the side of the museum: Money began pouring in. Some donors wrote checks for $1,000. 

That was encouraging, but it was not enough to dissuade the founder of the museum, Keith Roynon, who recently turned 82, from his plans to retire, close the museum and let another museum, probably from out of state, transport the collection he built over his entire life—from when he was a boy—out of the city.

Until Monday there was an effort by several local movers and shakers to try to save the beloved museum. Some members of the city government expressed interest in facilitating a plan to save it. There was talk that the museum’s landlord was willing to take less money on a temporary basis.

The Times-Advocate had prepared an article to run this week on that effort, which has now apparently run into insurmountable problems and probably won’t be going forward. We in the newspaper business never write “never” because reaching that conclusion has a way of turning around and biting you like a velociraptor sinking its fangs into your neck. However, at this juncture, optimism on saving the museum is in short supply. 

Nevertheless members of that effort tell the Times-Advocate they haven’t completely given up on the idea of keeping the collection in Escondido. We will report on that if the effort is revived in some way. 

Some practical considerations include the fact that, besides a building to house the museum, there need to be paid employees. Including an employee who would take over the job Keith Roynon did of teaching about the hundreds of specimens of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. There would probably also need to be a full-time office manager to manage volunteers and make sure the gift shop stock is kept up. 

The Roynon Museum was voted Best Museum in the San Diego area for 2016, according to the San Diego A-List website. Voters chose it from a list of 20 educational San Diego attractions, including the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the San Diego Museum of Natural History, and USS Midway Museum.

2 responses to “Last minute effort to save Roynon museum fizzles: but may not be dead”

  1. Jeannie Nutter says:

    Thank you to the Times Advocate for continually being one of the strongest supporters of the Roynon Museum. I would like to clear up a couple of things. First, there was an eleventh-hour attempt to raise money. A GoFundMe page set at $45,000 had raised about $5,000 in three or four days. The largest donations ae: ONE of $1,000 and a couple at $500 came from people that volunteer at the museum. The majority of the other $3,000 came from personal friends. So, the actual community input did not reflect the outpouring we had hoped for. In all fairness there had not been a lot of advertising to date so that may have changed. We also were made aware of “strings” attached to the other portion of the funds that may have been coming our way. Not that they were bad, but it wasn’t as if money was just being handed over. And it was going to take a lot more time to work things out. Time we did not have.
    The decision as to where to place the Foundation’s portion of the exhibits had already been made weeks ago. The place was chosen because it is not far and their mission reflects much the same as ours. They have several educational programs and it is not unusual for them to have 200-400 students attend in a day. We felt the collection would continue to be used to educate young children which has always been our main goal.
    I don’t know where the information was obtained regarding our staffing needs. I’m sure a well- meaning person attempted to give you facts, unfortunately, somewhat incorrect. None of that matters at this time. The decision was made to thank those concerned citizens for their efforts and to proceed with closing the museum. We gave up a week of time were had intended to use for packing and vacating the building, Now, we just have three weeks to go. Mr. Roynon’s dream was always to have the museum stay in Escondido long after he was involved. However, this decision had to be made with our heads and not our hearts.
    Again, we thank the community for their support, appreciate the efforts for the last minute save, and to you Mr. Ross, we will always be grateful for the support you have given us. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have so that any further articles might more correctly reflect the facts. We will soon be announcing the new location and I hope that can be publicized. Stay tuned.

  2. Richard Spann says:

    Keith and Judy. So sorry to hear about the closing. Hope retirement is enjoyed by you both. It has been years since we last met but am thankful for the years we had in Seattle as well as our trip to Baja! Will be praying for a blessed future!

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