The , which specializes in maintaining and exhibiting unique historical artifacts of South Gate, has been closed until further notice.
The museum houses a diverse group of South Gate historical items: speakers from the old drive-in theater, farming tools from this once rural city, personal objects from Nobel Prize winner and resident Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg, and the first and last tires that were made at the defunct Firestone plant.
Volunteers had long maintained the museum, but they no longer have the necessary manpower to keep it open.
“The membership has retired, moved on to be with their children in other cities, or just gotten older,” said Brian Kaiser, a longtime volunteer of the museum. The museum had an estimated 60 volunteers over 20 years ago, but now only has a total of four.
“There is just handful of us left,” Kaiser said.
The museum was already in a fragile state prior to its closing. It could only manage to open on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. because its honorary museum president could afford the time to volunteer for the whole day.
However, this is no longer the case because this important volunteer is ill and will not be able to participate for some time. To make things worse, all current volunteers are too busy to jump in and keep it open.
“Now it is all falling on one person,” said Kaiser. “If we had more people we could [open it] more days.”
The younger generation's seeming lack of interest in history and abiding interest in technology are seen as obstacles for the museum as it tries to recruit new help.
“They just have a fascination with new technology and electronics,” said Kaiser. “Some young people see this [museum] as old stuff, and they don’t relate to it.”
The current volunteers are all over 60, which has led them to worry about the future of the museum.
"That’s one of our constant concerns," said Kaiser. "If there is nobody left who cares, who is going to do anything?"
Lack of volunteerism is a problem that many organizations face and economic difficulties are contributing factors.
“It is tough, especially in a working-class community like South Gate,” said Paul Adams, city director of . Adams acts as the city’s liaison with the museum and is currently helping the museum volunteers deal with their dilemma. “When you’ve got kids at home and are working two or three jobs in order to try to make ends meet, [this] will make it difficult.”
Despite the difficulties, lovers of history insist a strong conservation of things past is important for the collective strength of a community since it can provide citizens with an understanding of what is to come.
“Our connection with our past is what provides us with the security to reach into our future,“ said Adams. “I have gained great appreciation for this community, for what it's done in the past, and what it is capable of doing in the future.”
If you wish to volunteer at the South Gate Civic Center museum, contact Paul Adams at 323-563-5478.