I love the Texas Memorial Museum at the University of Texas at Austin. It's a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, a really well-designed natural science museum that captures the evolution of Texas wildlife all the way back to prehistoric life. The museum was established in 1936, and it's free to visitors and open seven days a week. And as a sucker for a good museum diorama, allow me to insist that the Memorial Museum has some of my favorite dioramas anywhere. And most crucially, it's the only natural science museum in Austin. We need it.
Unfortunately, the budget for the UT Department of Natural Sciences is "in stasis," and so Dean Linda Hicke and the board have elected to slash the museum's budget by $620,000 - about 75% of its current budget of approximately $800,000. This means that the hours, staff (including sculptor John Maisano, who's worked for thirteen years designing those wonderful dioramas), exhibits and outreach programs will all be dramatically reduced, and no new programs have any chance of being instated. And honestly, the likelihood of the museum's continuing to operate with these reduced resources for very long seems slim.
You can read a thorough Austin Chronicle article about the budget cuts here.
And you can sign a petition to oppose the budget cuts here. It's not much, but it's something, and being a fan of this museum my whole life - I visited it as a kid on some of my many trips to UT as a dyed in the wool Longhorn - I obviously feel that signing a petition is better than sitting back and watching a great institution be gutted for purely monetary reasons.
Check out the museum's website here. And if you live in Austin and have never been - go now! Go right now!