Sofa, Iowa - folks in this river city town were delighted when a consultant suggested a children's museum as a way to draw people away from more popular Iowa tourist destinations.
An editorial in the local paper even suggested that the museum could become another "Field of Dreams", or "Bridges of Madison County" type attraction if done right. Unfortunately everything that could go wrong has, and townies are now decrying the museum as yet another boondoggle.
The museum, originally slated for prime real estate on the town's riverside dock complex, was instead built in a little used industrial park on the far side of the village. It's hard to find and difficult to park near, making it poorly attended.
Eric Halder, Curator of the Sofa Children's Museum, whose office overlooks the exhibit floor, Should be surveying the throngs of happy people below, or giving guided tours to visiting dignitaries. Instead, his days are filled with rearranging displays, interviewing new hires and warding off the odd street people who seem to frequent the little used attraction.
Further complicating the museum's problems is it's original purpose.
"I've been to dozens of so-called children's museums, and they're mostly little kids running around working various contrived displays," Mr. Halder told this reporter. "Our museum features exhibits with real kids in real life situations. Some of the more notable dioramas feature children sleeping, eating, and being punished."
"Only one in fifty people who visit our museum understands what we are trying to do here, and of those, a disproportionate amount are of the trench coat and black sock variety."
With foreclosure looming and growing discontentment among the members of the museum's board of directors, there is talk of closing the museum and re-purposing the building. One of the ideas under consideration is a Senior Citizens Museum.
"It would be the first of it's kind," Halder explains, "and at least the volunteers would stay in place once you put them there. Mostly."