James Dean Museum to Stay Open for Now

Monday, January 23rd 2006, 11:03 am
By: News On 6

GAS CITY, Ind. (AP) _ A museum chronicling the short life of James Dean that had been slated for closure will stay open after all _ at least for the time being.

David Loehr, the owner of the James Dean Gallery, said he's received an outpouring of support and money since he announced plans last month to close the facility for good.

``It just looked like it was going to be a long, cold winter and I didn't think I could make it through,'' Loehr said. ``But we're going to give it a shot.''

Loehr had worried that keeping the six-room museum open was too costly, but said he was able to ``generate a little bit of money'' during a recent trip to Los Angeles. Combined with an uptick in sales, he's been able to pay off debt and put money aside for operating expenses.

Dean, who was born in Marion in 1931, was killed in a car crash in Cholame, Calif., in 1955 at age 24.

About one-third of the phone calls to the Marion-Grant County Convention and Visitors Bureau are from prospective tourists interested in the actor, officials said.

``I think it's great that (Loehr) is working so hard to keep that exhibit available to the public,'' said Karen Niverson, the bureau's executive director. ``We'll send people that way as the calls come in.''