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Museum Happenings - March 2024

Snow and chilly weather have been scarce this season in Indiana County, with the occasional whiteout melting within a few days. This seems to match Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction, as spring is set to arrive on schedule. This month the Society kicks off events for the year by honoring those who served. Committees have also been hard at work developing programs and building relationships with other organizations. A portion of the Society’s efforts now turn to the future, as the board begins the strategic planning process. All these components combine to preserve Indiana County’s past and make it more accessible in the future.


The buildings and grounds committee put forth a tremendous effort last month cleaning the Armory basement. The space was organized, and junk that had been hiding for years was finally removed. Special thanks to Tom Crumm, Ron Kuzemchak, Mary Yanity, and Vince Beatty for taking the time to complete the dirty task. There is now a large amount of open space thanks to the committee’s efforts. Multiple pushes of the broom were required to clean the years of dust that had settled in some of the spaces. Now it is time to do the same over in the Clark House. Some good spring cleaning may be in order; however, that is a job for another day.


The Indiana Garden Club had a meeting in the Armory as part of their regular monthly schedule. They then toured the museum and had some excellent questions about the exhibit space. Concluding the visit, the group gave a nice donation to support the Society’s operations. On a similar note, this month the DAR is holding a meeting in the Clark House as they traditionally have for the past few years each March. The Clark House and Armory are steeped in a history of civic groups meeting within their halls. The Society is pleased to continue this collaborative effort with these organizations and see the magnificent spaces being utilized by generations of the community.

 

The board hosted its first strategic planning session last month, and it went well. The meeting featured an initial review of where the Society stands and developed the vision moving forward. Board members had the opportunity to share their concerns about and compliments for the Society. Another meeting is scheduled this month, and the board will be reviewing strategic plans of similar organizations as it hopes to develop its own. These meetings will frame the Society’s values and enable clear goals to be set for future improvements. They will also provide a written roadmap on how to achieve them.


Ron Kuzemchak has now lent his painting skills twice to the Society this year: once for painting the entryway display cases and a second time for handling components of the Vietnam Exhibit. Ron’s work is detail-oriented and enhances the space in which he is working. Under his watch, not a single drop of paint is out of place. As the weather becomes more mellow, there may be additional spaces outdoors which would benefit from Ron’s talent with the brush.


The 4th Annual Vietnam Veterans Appreciation Program is coming up this month on Friday March 22. Doors open at 5:30 pm, with the program beginning at 6:00 pm. It is important to note that the initial flyer had an incorrect day listed, but the above day, date, and time is correct. Over the course of the evening, speakers will commemorate those who served in the Vietnam conflict. There will also be a pinning ceremony courtesy of Christina Lonigro from Advocate Health Advisors, and live music from the era will also be played. If you served during the Vietnam era and are interested in being part of the pinning ceremony, please contact the Society with your information so that you can be recognized. There is also an exhibit up which highlights the conflict and will serve as a backdrop for the evening. This display will be viewable until the end of June.


As the semester progresses, internships are going well. Joshua Kriesman continues to work on his exhibit within the military museum. Soon, artifacts will be removed from storage and placed on display to meet his new vision for the space. Maddison Webster is also working on her own exhibit, which focuses on revitalizing the medical display. Maddison has produced a fantastic set of floor plans for the space, and it will be exciting to see those drawings come to life. Both interns should be able to draft a final proposal and hopefully be able to install their redesigns before the semester is through.


The Society has spent more than a year waiting on its production, but finally the new lamppost for the Clark House has arrived. Heinle Electrical is working to have the piece installed. The lamppost will replace a dusk-to-dawn light on the side of the Clark House that does not fit the aesthetic of the building. Wires will need to be rerouted, and the post itself will need to be secured to the brick pad. The post is cast iron and will tower 14 feet from the ground, emitting a warm glow in all directions. Once installed, it will complement the Clark House much better than the current lighting arrangement.


Davis Brothers will perform additional work on the heating system soon to make the front loop run more efficiently. The Society currently has two electric heaters in the bathrooms since the system is not functioning properly. Originally the piping was set for steam; however, when the transition to hot water was made many years ago, certain elements were not properly converted. This severely limits the heat output of the three radiators in the front of the building and often witnessed them not receiving heat, even on the coldest days of the year. This work will save money in the long run and enable the Society to strive towards being more energy efficient. Fortunately, the past few winters have been incredibly forgiving, but there is no telling when prolonged periods of cold and snow could return in the future. Our thanks to both Heinle Electric and Davis Brothers for their work and for being corporate members of the Historical Society.


Now that the Vietnam Exhibit is complete, the museum committee turns its attention to a new School Exhibit in collaboration with the program committee. The goal of this joint venture is to celebrate public schools in Indiana County. The Society is interested in stories our readers may have of the various districts from the perspective of former and current students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Send your response in writing or via email for it to be considered for inclusion in the exhibit. The Society has reached out to the seven county school districts, and Homer Center is already on board at the time the newsletter went to print.


The events continue next month with an impressive lineup of programs and fundraisers. Sara Lambert Bloom will lead off the month on April 4 at 6:30 pm with a talk on her new book and Iselin Strong LLC, which is set on revitalizing the town of Iselin. Time Traveler Trivia occurs the following evening; guests are invited to answer questions and win prizes. This trivia event does require tickets to be purchased in advance in person or through the Society’s website. Later this spring, Janice Dembosky comes to the Society on April 18 at 6:30 pm to talk about her new book Roza the Runaway. Last but not least, don’t forget to vote in the “My Indiana County” photo contest as the Society will be announcing its winner soon.


Committees are hard at work on future programs and exhibits, while the board also has its eyes trained on the future success of the museum. Our volunteers tirelessly give their time to keeping the grounds in order and the facilities clean. Collaborative efforts continue with other organizations and there is still more in store as the year progresses. With so much going on, we hope you can join us for one of these exciting events and experience some of the many stories that tie into Indiana County’s history and heritage.

 

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