By Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Despite uncertainty about how a likely federal shutdown will play out across Oklahoma tomorrow, the National Memorial and Museum, at the site of the A.P. Murrah Federal Building Bombing, will remain open.
In an interview with Oklahoma Watchdog, museum director Kari Watkins explained the facility operates as a 501 c 3 tax-exempt organization: “We were putting this organization together, initially, at the time of the 1995-96 shutdown scenarios, so we planned accordingly.”
The Memorial has remained a private facility, financed largely by voluntary contributions and admission revenue, and will not be impacted by a federal government shutdown, she said.
Although a pair of rangers with the National Park Service work at the site on any given day — and they will not be working if a shutdown occurs — that will not effect the memorial’s operations, Watkins said.
“The green and gray uniforms will go away until the shutdown is resolved, but we will cover any interpretive tours or other activities affected by the shutdown with existing personnel,” Watkins, who has served on the staff of the memorial and museum since its inception, concluded.
The Murrah Building was devastated in the April 19, 1995 terror bombing, killing 168 people and several unborn children. Their deaths are commemorated by empty chairs across a grassy lawn on the footprint of the building, which was imploded a few weeks after survivors and bodies of the dead were recovered from the site.
The Memorial and Museum draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.