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COSIs Headed In Different Directions, Museums Consider Name Change

COSI Columbus opened in 1964 and became one of the premier science museums in the country. And in 1997 COSI Toledo opened as its sister institution. The two organizations are associated through services like benefit plans and administrative duties. They even share the same web address. However, each COSI has its own board, budget and management. COSI Columbus is much larger than COSI Toledo with five times the revenue. But now COSI Columbus spokesperson, Kelly Nolinski, said the museums could be headed in different directions.

"For some time now we have been in discussions about our individual futures and the desire to chart our own courses if you will. And so if and when we decide to become completely separate and independent organizations, it would only be logical that after a period of time only one would get to have the COSI name," Nolinski said.

Nolinski said that would help reduce visitor confusion between the two museums. COSI Columbus has the rights to the name. And Nolinski said since COSI Columbus was the original organization it would be most reasonable for it to keep the name.

Both institutions claim the negotiations, which have been going on for about two years, are peaceful. But an article published in the Toledo Blade, January 6, suggested otherwise. COSI Toledo's board of directors' president, Dr. Michael Walsh, was quoted as saying the Toledo museum has been receiving pressure from Columbus to either change its name or pay thousands of dollars in monthly fees to use it.

But Toledo's director of operations, Lori Hauser, denied any insistence from the other side.

"We're not receiving pressure from Columbus what we're receiving is that we're working through it together," Hauser said.

When asked which museum initiated the discussions, both sides declined to answer.

The two institutions have had financial problems. In 2004 COSI Columbus placed a half mill property tax on the ballot, but it failed. COSI Columbus laid of workers, reduced hours and leased space to tenants including the WOSU stations. COSI Toledo said it needs voters to approve a levy if it wants to stay in business.