The relinquishing of the Beekley Collection by the Mammoth Lakes Foundation strips a vital layer away from Mammoth. The collection has enhanced the ski reputation of the town and ski area. It added considerable cachet to the International Ski History association annual meeting two years ago.
But it’s losing its home in Edison Hall on the campus of Cerro Coso Community College.
The Beekley Collection costs major bucks to sustain and economic uncertainties have made analyzing the foundation’s bottom line an excruciating, soul-searching process. “It’s not a frivolous decision,” said board member Bonnie Colgan, who said the foundation’s board has been working on this for two years. Finally, the bottom line grew heavy with the expense, and the foundation has made the hard decision to jettison it.
Aren’t there any other places that could house this collection? How about Mammoth Mountain Ski Area – isn’t that the obvious home? Wouldn’t the Village be a great place to display rotating exhibitions from the collection?
Foundation director Evan Russell projects the Edison Hall remodeling to have three phases. He plans for an intimate 100-seat theater to be open by December, an art studio for drawing, painting and ceramics by spring and the culinary teaching kitchen to be cooking by summer.
What will remain in place is our local history, with exhibits of Robin Morning, Dave McCoy and Andrea Mead Lawrence. Russell anticipates nurturing local lore and the people who have come and gone, made a difference. For example, a kind of retrospective with Hub Zemke, the fellow who made Hexcel skis in Main Lodge in the early 1970s. This will include some of the skis (many still in original wrappers), films, memorabilia and people who worked with Zemke.
We applaud the Mammoth Lakes Foundation in turning a negative into a positive, a loss into a gain. Edison Hall will be a lively place, with a focus on education and culture, and in bringing funds to support Cerro Coso Community College. It is a fitting transition from this project, looking down the road several years to a successful transitioning into the cultural arts center that is being planned.
While the sadness at losing the Beekley Collection cannot be measured, the hard decisions made by the foundation are geared to ensure the future. If Mammoth wants the collection strongly enough, we hope someone will come forward and make it happen.
Unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the Mammoth Times Editorial Board.