With renovations nearly complete, the East Texas Oil Museum is set to reopen to the public at some point in the next two weeks.

Museum manager Jackie Reynolds said she'd hoped to open the museum's doors this week but a minor plumbing issue caused a slight delay.

“It's safe to say we'll be open within the next two weeks, Reynolds said Monday. “(Renovations) have gone really well. It's just a tedious process because of the artifacts. We want to make sure everything is preserved so it takes a lot longer than a normal renovation. We have to treat everything with kid gloves.

Renovations got underway in late November and the museum closed early for the holidays to allow work to continue. Though its doors were closed, activity was buzzing inside the building as workers repainted, reupholstered and replaced old fixtures.

As renovations began, Reynolds said the aim was to give the museum a “facelift – new carpets, new furniture, bathroom upgrades and new technology. At a city council meeting in September, Kilgore College President Dr. Brenda Kays said the cost of repairs and upgrades would be $203,761, which would cover the installation of wireless Internet hot-spots, the installation of a new, modern projector screen in the museum's theater and the repair of the Boomtown exhibit. Costs will be covered by KC budget funds, museum reserves and fundraising. The council voted to approve Kays' request to use a portion of the city's Hotel Occupancy Tax funds to cover the renovation of the museum's theater, as the upgrades would allow more city events to be held there.

Reynolds said great care was being taken by Museum Arts, the Dallas company overseeing the renovations, to preserve the original exhibits. That's one of the reasons the renovations take so much time, she said; the exhibits and artifacts have to be carefully taken down and then reinstalled to avoid damaging them.

Despite the changes at the museum, Reynolds said longtime patrons need not worry about losing some of their favorite exhibits.

“I definitely don't want people to panic and think we've lost any of the historic value, she said. While the museum's “facelift will include upgraded amenities and an upbeat color palette, the core exhibits are only being repaired, not permanently changed.

“It'll still be all the same, Reynolds said.

This set of renovations is the first in the museum's 40-year history. In addition to the cosmetic and technology upgrades, the museum was one of the first structures on the KC campus to receive energy efficiency upgrades from the McKinstry company, part of a campus-wide project to make buildings more comfortable and efficient while slashing utility bills.

Reynolds said the museum's new look will be accompanied by new operating hours. When the museum officially reopens, its spring and summer hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

The phones at the museum are operational and Reynolds said anyone with questions is invited to call 903-983-8295.

“We hope everyone will come out and see us.

Kilgore News Herald

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