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Editorial: Downtown museums raise quality of life in Longview, East Texas

By Longview News-Journal
Sept. 15, 2014 at 10 p.m.


We hear the term "quality of life" a great deal when it comes to our community. That's because there's an increasing understanding of the importance not just of education, but of opportunities for recreation, leisure and community.

East Texas and Longview in particular already are known for being a great place to live, work and raise a family. Events like this past weekend's T-Bone Walker Blues Festival, the Great Texas Balloon Race, a growing parks system and other events and amenities have made our city a draw for people from around the region and the world. Our strong churches, respected medical centers, vibrant retail market and improving public infrastructure make it more livable.

That's not to say our city is perfect. Far from it. Part of any definition of quality of life has to be the understanding many people are working to make Longview even better.

It's a job that will never be finished, nor should it be. The day we stop trying to improve it is the day our city will begin getting worse.

It's important to remember a good quality of life just doesn't just happen. It involves many factors. One of those - which itself is multi-faceted - is cultural opportunity. In smaller cities this can be particularly difficult to achieve because it can take big money and most of that has to be donated locally.

So when we learned recently that renovation of the Longview Museum of Fine Arts was moving apace so a new lecture hall would be ready for the Christmas season, it made us feel good about the state of cultural affairs in Longview.

The lecture hall is part of a $175,000 project underway at the museum. The popular downtown institution also is building a new vault in which to store and better preserve artwork.

Then we heard Longview's World of Wonders, which has been operating for a number of years as a children's discovery museum without walls, received $51,000 in donations to move it another step closer to being a museum with walls in its new downtown building. It has been an effort long in the making.

The excitement among Longview children for World of Wonders is almost palpable. We know of some who ask parents for special trips downtown just to make sure it hasn't quietly opened. And we know it will become a major attraction for Longview once it has.

Rounding out downtown's museum facilities is the ever-popular Gregg County Historical Museum, which has fascinating and frequently changing exhibits concerning our area's past. Even if you go to the historical museum often it is difficult to leave without discovering some new fact you feel like sharing with someone. Regular special events shed light on many aspects of history and culture.

These three museums don't make Longview a city, but they certainly add to the city's quality of life. That makes us a better city, one that has something to offer for almost everyone.

If you haven't taken advantage of what's already on offer downtown you owe it to yourself to do just that. Otherwise you are missing out on some of the best of your hometown.

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