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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: GoFundMe.com/Museum2019. 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.

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