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Lawmakers want state museum open Sundays

ALBANY -- A bill that paves the way to reopening the State Museum on Sundays is sitting on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's desk.

The governor has not indicated whether he will sign or veto the measure, which was drafted with the support of the state Education Department and local legislators. They say it would grant needed "flexibility" that would allow the department to keep the Cultural Education Center -- the white marble building across Madison Avenue from Empire State Plaza that houses the library, museum and archives -- open both weekend days. It was shuttered on Sundays at the start of the year.

"This bill would give the power to close one of the weekdays in order to keep the weekends," explained Assemb. Jack McEneny (D-Albany).

According to Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the Education Department, there is a state statute -- first enacted in the 1830s -- that dictates the library's operating hours. It was last amended in the 1890s, and mandates that the library be open Monday through Friday during regular business hours. At that time, McEneny added, the library primarily serviced the needs of the State Legislature.

The library added Saturday hours this past October. Its collection contains volumes on New York history, as well as microfilm records of newspapers dating to the 19th century -- useful tools for even casual researchers.

During winter and spring, when school is in session and the climate can be sour, attendance spikes on weekends. Sunday closely trailed Saturday. In the summer months, weekdays see more activity.

Cuomo is still reviewing the measure, his spokesman said. The governor must sign or veto it by Wednesday.

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