Naranjo Museum announces move to public charity ahead of annual spring gala

Naranjo Museum announces move to public charity ahead of annual spring gala

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As the Naranjo Museum of Natural History in Lufkin prepares for its 2nd annual spring gala, organizers have another reason to celebrate: the welcoming of a new board of directors.

Museum owners Neil and Mary Ann Naranjo said the move is apart of a long-term plan that could take several years to execute. The goal is to convert what is now a private, family foundation into a public charity which will be controlled by a board of directors.

“The beauty of changing from a private foundation to a public charity is that we can solicit grants from other organizations and do more fundraising,” said Mary Ann Naranjo. “Because ultimately what we want to do, we want to fundraise and build another building so we can house traveling exhibits from other museums, and that’s a really big deal.”

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The addition of a board of directors, Naranjo said, would not diminish the role she and her husband play at the museum; the two will still serve on the board.

“Our foundation will continue to own the fossil collection, which we will loan to the museum, and then we will donate the land and buildings of the Naranjo museums to the public charity,” Naranjo explained. “Then it will continue to operate as a public charity with Naranjo family members on the board.”

The ability to solicit grants and hold fundraisers will help attract bigger exhibits to the museum, which Naranjo said would also attract guests who can’t make the trip to larger cities like Dallas or Houston to visit larger museums.

“Our board wants to make this stuff available to the children and families of East Texas, and you can have exhibits - science exhibits, historical exhibits - the sky’s the limit,” said Naranjo. “It’s amazing what exhibits are out there, and we can rotate them through so families who don’t have the wherewithal to get to Houston, or don’t want to pay the prices that it costs to get into those exhibits, can come in and be exposed to some amazing stuff.

“Our whole thing is accessibility to the community of East Texas,” Naranjo added.

The 2nd annual spring gala, called 'Dancing with Dinos’, will be held on Saturday, April 6 at 6 p.m. It was among the first projects overseen by the new board of directors.

“What we wanted to do, we wanted to build an annual fundraising event that will help us raise funds to run the museum, and for future projects,” said Veronica Amoe, museum manager.

Tickets to the gala include a night of dinner and dancing, as well as a live and silent auction. Amoe said all of the proceeds raised during Saturday’s event will go to the museum to help maintain exhibits, improve educational programs, and bring in new exhibits in the future. Guests will also get a sneak peek at a new exhibit the museum just finished.

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