Not Only History
Historic preservation is certainly a key motivating force behind the museum project. If action is not taken, the Conrad Garage may end up in a landfill or in some distant city. But there are other benefits and goals of the proposed museum, including education, tourism and economic development.
Education must be the keystone of the museum. Whether it be the youngest child or the oldest adult, each should come away from his or her visit with a better understanding of the role that broadcasting played and continues to play in the world.
Recent studies indicate a general decline in student comprehension of history and science at primary and secondary school levels. To address this problem through the museum, innovative educational programs will be designed to kindle student interest and creativity at all grade levels.
Educational partnerships with local school districts already have been proposed. Gifted high school students would participate in the planning and operational stages of the museum. Local colleges and universities likewise will be involved before and after the museum is open to the public.
Educational tours will be available to all regional schools and, for those schools unable to send students, the museum will come to them through traveling exhibits.
Tourism is Pennsylvania’s 2nd largest industry and is predicted to become its largest in the future. The Pennsylvania Heritage Tourism Study of 1999 found that some 10.3 million visitors, spending 2.99 billion dollars travelled to the state’s historical attractions in 1997. It also found that Heritage Tourism in the state was growing at double-digit rates. For years the state has been working to develop broad-based funding of tourism-generating projects.
The National Museum of Broadcasting is such a project. If properly funded and promoted, this museum would attract visitors from all over the world and contribute significantly to Pittsburgh’s growing image as a tourist destination. The economic impact on the region could reach into the millions of dollars annually.
Hand-in-hand with tourism comes the potential for economic development. Wherever the Conrad Garage and NMB are located it’s likely that ancillary businesses and development will follow.
Since broadcasting in Pittsburgh had its origins in the industrial setting of Westinghouse, it seems appropriate to consider sites in the Turtle Creek and Mon Valleys, areas that have been hard-hit by plant closings and general business decline over the past two decades. The economic benefits of the museum would extend to existing businesses in these areas and open up opportunities for new ones.