Communication Builds Our Community

State Budget Cuts Impact Lake Wales History Museum

Humanities Lectures Now Need Sponsors

The popular Lake Wales History Museum speaker series took a hit when the Florida Humanities Council (FHC) announced June 11 it had lost all of its state funding. The museum now will need to find $5,000 to underwrite the five programs it expected to be provided at no cost by the Council.

Executive Director Steve Siebert said the FHC normally gets about 25 percent of its annual funding for operations and programs from the state, but the Florida Legislature provided zero funding in its recently adopted budget. The FHC receives a majority of its funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and that funding is secure, Siebert said.

"We want to be clear: the Florida Humanities Council will continue to serve," Siebert wrote in a message to FHC friends. "We remain committed to our organizational mission: to provide access to the humanities – to the stories and ideas that make us human – to all Floridians, wherever located."

Siebert said the popular speaker series will be suspended, no new applications for community walking tours will be accepted and the number of FORUM publications will be reduced from three to two. He said Museum and Main Street exhibits will become contingent on alternative funding.

Lake Wales History Museum Director Jennifer D'hollander said she is hoping to find sponsors or donors to support the speaker series, the museum's most popular program, which has been attracting more than 100 guests for each event. Past programs have explored a wide range of topics from World War II, African-American history, women's history, local stories and more.

Speaker series programs planned, but now needing funding, include: Florida Transportation by Steve Noll on Nov. 21, Rain by Cynthia Barnett on Jan. 16, Florida Highwaymen by Gary Monroe Feb. 20, Old Florida Stories by Caren Neile on March 12 and U Boats by Michael Tougias on April 23.

"I would prefer to keep it free, so as to not have any economic barriers for individuals who want to experience these amazing presentations," D'hollander said. Potential sponsors or donors can email her at [email protected] or call the Museum at 863-676-1759.

For more information about the Florida Humanities Council, to sign up for its E-newsletter or to become a donor or member, visit the website at

The Lake Wales History Museum is located at 325 S. Scenic Highway in the historic Atlantic Coast Line railway depot. The site also features a newly restored 1926 Seaboard Air Line Railroad caboose, a 1916 Pullman passenger car and a 1944 U.S. Army locomotive engine. The Museum has artifacts, images and documents on display self-guided historical exhibits year-round. It offers free admission and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit its website at

The current Museum exhibit is "Building an Icon: Building Bok Tower Singing Carillon," on display until Aug. 24.


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 06/16/2024 11:48