Q and A with Gary Cypres Part VII: The future of the museum

The last of the Gary Cypress seven-part Q&A:

Gary Leonard/LA Downtown News

Gary Leonard/LA Downtown News

Q: What’s the future of your museum? It was open to the public for awhile, now you open it to those who do events. Is it feasible to open as a museum in the future?
I’ve wrestled with this. First, it costs a fortune to house all this stuff. From a business point of view, it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. It’s horrible. Not only do I tie up money with that, I can’t rent out the building, so my wife asks me about that part of it all the time. Then you have insurance, carrying costs . . . so now, having gone through that, the loss is there, so you’re faced with – it got really expensive to try to keep it open to the public because of security reasons. This is all readily accessible.  It’s not like the Hall of Fame where it’s behind glass and you can’t touch anything. That’s not how this operates. This place is also very bright with the lighting. It’s clear if I made it available to charitable groups, that’s one way to share it. It’s rewarding for them to use as a venue and it’s been successful in raising funds. In the longer term, do I open it for tours? We could make it smaller. We could also put some of it on tour, like the Brooklyn Dodgers items to see if other places might want to house it. Maybe even the Dodgers some day? I don’t think it’ll ever go to Dodger Stadium, for whatever reason.
My instincts are to put all my Dodger stuff into a perpetual trust and hopefully find a home. It can’t be duplicated. When you amass a certain collection, now you have the history of a major historical thing. Probably unless someone says here’s $30 million bucks … I don’t think current owners are as interested in that. Ask yourself the question: Why don’t more teams have museums of their own. The answer is that almost none of them do. They haven’t saved their artifacts. Why? When Ebbets Field went, they auctioned off everything. I can’t believe it. Gratuitously, I got a lot of it. Why is it? It’s rare you have ownership that is both interested in historic things as well as the future of their ownership. That’s been a great problem for museums now. Maybe owners are beginning to understand to have the artifacts important to the franchise. So as it turns out, I have a lot of the Dodgers things, and they don’t so they improvise by making duplicates of some things. That’s their way, and maybe others, to meet this in a funny way. Perhaps the fans don’t’ care if it’s a duplicate or not. You can’t duplicate jerseys, because they don’t look right. Maybe with trophies, but then they’re too shiny and off the assembly line. Most ownerships for whatever reason look at it as a business.

Q: The event with Stan Kasten coming here, another opportunity to let fans see what you have, how do you feel about that opportunity leading to more exposure?
A: It’s a wonderful opportunity for people who are really interested in seeing things about the Dodgers they could never see. It’s unique, nothing else like it. For those interested in understanding the long history of the franchise, which is important in how they became established into this thing worth $2.5 billion, it had to come from somewhere. You can see how the brand was created, notice how almost every Dodger Hall of Famer came from Brooklyn, every retired number, you get a sense of how this was built. That’s what the collection is for, to go back in time to see something that’ll never be repeated from the 1950s in New York when you had the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants in one city and so competitive. If you took the Yankees away, do you realize how great the Dodgers would have been in history? They probably would have won five more world championships, maybe never had to move because of such great momentum, but that wasn’t the case as attendance was declining.

Q: Is part of the joy of the collection being here and watching people react to it and marvel at what they’re experiencing? And you get to be the historian who also explains it to them as well?
Yes, especially the older folks like me who love to reminisce; those in my age bracket can remember how it used to be. Sometimes, we just talk and have fun. The wonderful thing is seeing fathers explain to their kids the history. That’s the greatest joy. It evokes wonderful memories of childhood with their parents. That’s what I’ve witnessed.

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