Revoked Lease has National Pinball Museum Seeking Space and Donations

After being told its lease would end in 60 days, the National Pinball Museum in Georgetown is looking for a new location and is happy to accept private donations.

As previously reported, the National Pinball Museum (NPM), which opened in the Georgetown Park Mall in December 2010, must now leave its home in the next 60 days. NPM is now searching for a new home and asking the public for any help people or businesses can provide.

The museum received a letter May 18 from the mall owner Vornado Realty telling the non-profit that its lease would expire in 60 days. The move, though a surprise to the museum, was within the legal boundaries of its lease.

When Vornado took over ownership of the mall, the tenants signed a lease that stipulated that the mall ownership could revoke a license agreement at any time as long as they are given 60 days notice, according to said Tiffani Huskey, the director of operations at the National Pinball Museum.

"The lease was read by our lawyers and we signed it and they (Vornado) were within its parameters," said Huskey

There was no reason given in the letter for the sudden action. 

"They are scheduling renovations for the mall, but we do not know why they are revoking the lease," said Huskey.

The non-profit currently leases 1,400 square feet of space where it houses some 200 pinball machines and various exhibits on the arcade game.

They intend to ask for an extension, since the peak tourist season is just beginning, when the museum hoped to really start drawing crowds.

Right now the space is open Thursday through Sunday and sees as few as 25 and as many as 100 visitors in a day, according to Huskey. 

Though it is unclear where its future home or homes might be, the museum, in some form, will continue to exist 60 days from now. Huskey said they are considering all options, including moving to a smaller space and/or having special exhibits from some of their collection housed at other museums.

The community and pinball enthusiasts have offered tremendous support so far. From offering spaces to rents, to pro bono help searching for a new lease, to monetary donations. A space in New Mexico asked if the museum would be willing to move there.

We "really have not put anyone out in terms of saying no...at this point we would take whatever we can get," said Huskey.

Sadly, there "will never be a time when people could see the museum as it in in this state," once the mall lease ends, explained Huskey.

To encourage visitors to visit the museum is dropping its admissions rate from $13.50 to $3.

In addition to visiting the museum and paying admission, you can donate your time or extra space. Help for a few hours with packing and moving or offer up a slot for a machine or two in your storage space.

They have received monetary donations, though Huskey could not specify how much, "it's still coming in," she said. You can donate online; all donations to the museum, a 501c3, are tax deductible.

"Would love to stay here in D.C." said Huskey, "but because we have only 60 days, no area is out of question."


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