Museum transfer remains a debate

MIFFLINTOWN – The Juniata County Historical Society met with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Tuesday to discuss the future of the Tuscarora Museum and its possible transfer of ownership.

Though the museum wasn’t officially offered to the historical society during the meeting, it was stated that ownership of the property will most likely be available within the coming calendar year, said Audrey Sizelove, president of the Juniata County Historical Society.

“The meeting was basically a ‘heads-up’ of what we can expect,” Sizelove said. “The PHMC is divesting itself of properties and, in the foreseeable future, they will most likely offer us the museum.”

The PHMC representative was unable to give an official date of the inevitable offer because of the complicated legislative process required beforehand, Sizelove said. In the meantime, the historical society will continue reaching out to organization members as well as the community.

“The Tuscarora Museum is an important historical site that we’ve been involved with for more than 40 years,” Sizelove said. “And while we recognize its significance, we also want the community to be aware that taking ownership is not something we can do without thought, preparation and support.”

To discuss the topic further, the Juniata County Historical Society is holding an open community meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Lower Tuscarora Presbyterian Church in Mifflin. Sizelove plans to give a presentation, open the floor to questions and offer participants a questionnaire.

The same questionnaire was previously given to members of the historical society during the organization’s October meeting. While there was no clear-cut opinion regarding whether the society should take ownership of the museum, there was a general concern regarding the amount of money it would take to operate and maintain the museum, Sizelove said.

According to a projected cost analysis, it would cost roughly $500,000 to complete a number of much needed repairs as well as to maintain the property over time. That’s in addition to the $20,000 it costs for the historical society to operate in an average year, Sizelove said.

“That the Tuscarora Museum is an important part of Juniata County’s history and deserves to be preserved is not a question,” Sizelove said. “The question is, “can the funds be raised in order to do so?” We want to present all the facts so people truly understand what a dilemma this is.”

For more information, contact the Juniata County Historical Society at 436-5152 or