Museum Opening Will Be Revealing
August 31, 2008
By ST. CLAIRE DONAGHY
Index-Journal Staff Writer
Greenwood, SC - Many museums are hands-off places where you may go look at various collections, but never touch things.
Newly renovated, The Museum in Greenwood, is not one of those stuffy places.
While some things displayed are indeed not to be touched, several exhibits are designed to be hands-on.
Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
- This refreshing change is part of The Museum’s overhaul, which includes the new mott “My history, My community, My Museum.”
- The public is invited to visit the spruced-up museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It will also be open the day before, during First Friday in Uptown Greenwood. Admission is $2 for children and $5 for adults.
Matt Edwards, The Museum’s executive director, said anyone who visited the museum before the renovations should be “amazed,” by the transformation.
The facility, Edwards said, has morphed from a place that “stored cool, old stuff under glass” to a place with “high-quality interpretive exhibits that people expect from a professional museum.”
“It doesn’t look like the same place,” Edwards said, pointing out that Fritz Hamer, cultural history chief curator for the SC State Museum in Columbia said renovation work being completed at The Museum is “probably the best example of what small community museums in South Carolina should be doing.”
The Museum’s main floor Main Street exhibit has been revamped to allow curious children and adults alike to see what life was like between 1870 to 1930.
Interactive Main Street spaces include:
* A general store, where you can play with an vintage cash register and explore weights and measures.
* A depot, where you can explore transportation and commerce through pull-boxes showing the types of goods brought in to the community by train.
* A dress shop, where you can try on hats and, eventually, period clothes, as well as make and decorate hats.
* A school house, modeled after a one-room school house that once stood in Bradley, where you can sit in antique desks from District 50 schools.
* A blacksmith’s shop that pays homage to C.L. Beaudrot’s, an actual blacksmith shop that operated in Greenwood for generations.
Included in the Main Street exhibit are cornerstones from the original Greenwood hospital and the original Bank of Greenwood building, both of which are part of The Museum’s extensive 45,000-item collection.
Facades for some of the Main Street exhibits utilize bricks from the Greenwood Mill No. 5 that’s in the process of being torn down.
A number of the Main Street exhibits also feature “ambient sound,” n turn-of-the-century “daily noise sound clips,” n such as train whistles and Model T Fords, etc.
Additionally, there’s a cinema room where short film vignettes about Greenwood will be shown.
“I cannot say I have a favorite space,” Edwards said. “As we’ve worked on them, we’ve grown attached to them all.”
There are also donor recognition panels honoring those who helped make The Museum improvements a reality.
When The Museum opens, the upper floor will house a temporary, traveling dinosaur exhibit through Jan. 24.
A short time later, permanent regional natural history exhibits will be installed on that floor.
“Main exhibits on the upper floor are to be on the perimeter and free-standing interactive exhibits are to be in the center. They can be moved to open up the space for receptions, public events and Kidfest (during the Festival of Flowers),” Edwards said.
Upstairs also houses a community resource/meeting room, with a service kitchen. There are also two gallery spaces. Plans are for the upper level to have a children’s area, too.
The Museum’s lower basement level is slated for classroom space and Greenwood history.
“There are some great stories from this community,” Edwards said, mentioning a few, including Bailey Military Academy, the railroads and textiles and how the Oregon Hotel fire contributed to Greenwood getting its first fire engine.
Efforts have been made to tie in exhibits with school curriculum standards and exhibits may also be changed out periodically, Edwards said.
“We don’t want everything to be the same year after year,” Edwards said.
Renovations were funded through a federal grant from Housing and Urban Development, a portion of The Emerald Triangle project’s capital campaign, hospitality tax funds and grants from the Self Family Foundation, the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor, The C.Y. Thomason Foundation, as well as money raised through local private contributions.
Funds have covered architectural and engineering fees, purchase of a door, roof repairs, repairs, building and fire code upgrades to the main building, new exhibitry, a new gallery space adjacent to the Durst Gallery, upgrades to the Durst Gallery, replacement of the elevator and renovations to The Museum’s warehouse.
Most of the renovations have been accomplished with the help of local companies, including: sound system providers, lumber companies, building supply companies, hardware stores, paint stores, aluminum fabricators, handyman services, audio production companies, architects, electricians, engraving companies, printing companies, school systems, woodworking groups, interior decorators, fine art finishers, laser water-jet fabricators and numerous others. Contributions also have been made through local foundations and civic groups.
Planning for the overhaul began when Edwards came on board as The Museum’s executive director in 2005.
“We did a lot of research to find out what the community’s expectations were,” Edwards said. “The community told us it wanted a museum to be proud of.”
The Museum promotes regional history, regional natural history and local art and culture.
The next step, Edwards said, is to establish an endowment to fund The Museum’s operating costs and allow it to “give back to the community for future generations.”
The Sept. 6 opening, Edwards said, “is the beginning,” for The Museum.
“People will really get to see where we’re headed,” Edwards said. “We still need to raise $350,000 to complete exhibits for the upper floor and basement.”