The museum has had wonderful attendance in the past two years in Bryson City. We had more than 15,000 visitors in 2017. We are pretty much at exhibit capacity in the museum, with many exhibits in storage pending setup in the second building.
To date, we have raised 90% of the funds needed to setup the aquariums. We still need at least two $5,000 sponsors for the final tanks planned. However, this need will not prevent us from opening once we get everything we have purchased so far in place.
We are awaiting delivery of the first 5 tanks – 3 tanks form the mountain stream, 1 tank and metal stand for the hellbenders, and the 5th tank is a 6' x 6' 800-gallon tank to handle larger species of fish. Once the 5 tanks are in place, we will build the mountain stream and expect to have it operational ready before year-end. We also expect to have the Living Wall tank in place and operational ready at the same time. The room is 1000 square feet and is laid out to maximize the capacity for fish exhibits. The mountain stream is over 2500 gallons and comprised of 3 larger tanks and a waterfall reservoir tank on the second floor. The other tanks in the room will bring the total capacity at over 6000 gallons among a total of 16 tanks. We will be able to exhibit as many as 60 species of fish at the same time. The aquarium will have a small admissions charge and the revenue will fully fund all museum operations hence forth.
The hellbender tank will be ready soon. During the winter we will complete the construction, and have all the tanks in place except the two remaining to be sponsored. One tank will be collectively sponsored by businesses and individuals ($1000 - Platinum, $500 - Gold, $250 - Silver, $100 - Bronze) and dedicated to the "giving back" non-profits - Casting Carolinas, Casting for Hope, Project Healing Waters, etc. We can always use more collective sponsors.
We plan a soft opening on March 27-28 (same weekend as the next Museum Hall of Fame Event) depending on how well the build goes. Each tank needs about 30 days running before fish may be added for display.
One final note. We now have 3 Satellite Exhibits - Wilson Creek Visitor Center, South Mountain State Park and Caldwell County Heritage Museum. Each of these exhibits replicate and share a small element of the museum in a public place where the visibility of fly fishing can "lure" folks to come to Bryson City and see the full museum. More of these are planned soon.
We need two more tanks sponsored, so we are offering joint sponsorships as a collective of donors. A tank sponsorship is $5,000, however we will recognize Platinum ($1000), Gold ($500), Silver ($250) and Bronze ($100) levels of sponsorship first-come, first-served grouped to a tank. Please consider a donation to bring this project to completion. Donation Form
Southern Trout Online Magazine (courtesy of Don Kirk) is running a GoFundMe.com operation to raise monies as a sponsor of the Mountain Stream.
We expect 50,000+ visitors to see these tanks and new exhibits annually. We finished 2017 with more than 15,000 visitors.
The future aquarium revenue will be the operating funds to perpetuate the fly fishing museum. Sponsorship assures that the museum remains open and viable.