The opening of the concourse connecting the Nevada State Museum's two Carson Street buildings was "the culmination of nearly a decade of facility expansion and improvements," said museum Director Jim Barmore.
But just a month after it opened in May, the museum was slammed by budget cuts that eliminated many staff, made the survivors into part-time employees and forced the museum to shut down three days a week.
"We went from our high point to the low point," Barmore said. "The realities of the recession hit us hard."
He said his big concern these days is that too many people think the entire museum is shut down.
"I think a lot of people feel we are closed," said Barmore, who didn't have specific general attendance figures. "We're not."
Museum exhibits, including the popular underground mine, are open and in better shape than ever, said Barmore. They're only open to the public 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Cost is $6 adults, $4 seniors 65 and over, free for members and people under 18.
"It frustrates us because the museum looks better than it ever has and just when we were really ready to show off I would say one of the best mid-size museums in the country, we had to close."
Barmore said another thing many people don't know is that the museum and concourse are available seven days a week to groups wanting to hold special events. He said the Nevada Rock Art Foundation rented museum space for an exhibition recently.
The concourse, a glass and steel structure connecting the two museum buildings, has expanded the museum's ability to hold special events for both public and private groups. And the revenue from such events, he said, is one way the museum can make up for some of the 35-percent budget cut imposed by the Legislature.