Last week, the 40th anniversary of a local museum came and went — and few people noticed. When the Pate Museum of Transportation opened in 1969, it was the first of its kind in North Texas, featuring mainly rare, vintage automobiles but also airplanes, a minesweeper, and several other conveyances. President Lyndon Baines Johnson sent a telegram of congratulations for the opening, and over the years visitors have come from as far away as Germany, Switzerland, and Italy to see the collection that’s estimated to be worth millions.
But in the decade following the death of the museum’s founder, oilman A.M. “Aggie” Pate Jr., the museum in south Fort Worth has been forced to scale back operations. “We don’t have the funds we used to have,” said Sharon Pate, Aggie’s daughter, who now runs the museum and who noted that her father had an irreplaceable knack for generating corporate and private donations. “We just don’t have the money coming in like we used to. It adds up, to keep the grounds up, the utilities. The insurance alone is astronomical.”