There’s an old adage that “possession is nine-tenths of the law.” And as far as Athens-Clarke County is concerned, news that the Georgia Music Hall of Fame’s collection of memorabilia (or at least that portion of the collection that won’t be returned to the almost-shuttered Macon facility’s donors) is coming to the University of Georgia could make possession “nine-tenths of a local attraction.”
It’s not yet clear what will happen with the memorabilia that will be stored in the University of Georgia’s new Special Collections Library. But, the decision by the hall’s governing authority to store the collection at UGA as the hall shuts down “bears a strong resemblance” to Athens’ bid for the facility.
That bid was submitted pursuant to a state legislative mandate to find a fiscally stable future for the Hall of Fame as the state government moved away from subsidizing its operations. In that bidding process, all of which was eventually scrapped by the Hall of Fame Authority, Athens was in competition with Dunwoody, Woodstock and Macon.
The Athens bid proposed storing and/or displaying part of the hall’s collection in the community, while making much of the collection available for temporary display at venues around the state. The local bid was rejected because it didn’t meet a requirement for a 10,000 square-foot facility to house the hall.
However, as Matt Forshee, CEO of the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Foundation, noted the hall’s collection of memorabilia is now bound for this community. “That’s always good,” he told the Banner-Herald, adding, “I think the university is the best place for it.”
It is, though, important to recognize that having the collection will represent a challenge for the university. Bill Potter, a UGA library official, noted as much when he pointed out there is no funding for curating, displaying and otherwise managing the memorabilia. He did say the university would store the memorabilia for the Hall of Fame Authority, will be involved in discussions of the future of the collection, and will work with the authority to pursue private funding for whatever the future might bring. All of those people should start working now, in a unified way, to exercise the community’s’ voice in the future of the Hall of Fame and its collection of memorabilia.