There are a number of typical nonprofit pitfalls in this story, topped by the need for the cushion of an endowment and the importance of tough minded projections of the impact of major investments. Build a spectacular attraction, and it still may be tough to compete for admissions.
While the building seems to have been a wash in this storythe sale of the building covered the debt, after allthe increased operating costs that came with expansion were likely a major factor in the museum's downfall.As noted in prior posts about difficulties in other nonprofit sectorssee Is Salvation a Kroc? and Facilities and business plansgood preparation for a facility undertaking does not start with hiring an architect. It begins with overall stategy and planning (Understanding Facilities Part 1 and Part 2) and a comprehensive exploration of financial scenarios (Critical Issues 6: Financial Modeling).