Saturday, January 1, 2011

Salem is getting a new museum that is all about itself

January 1, 2011
Such a great New Year's gift..... Talked about by many, for so many years, and even a Boston Globe article this past fall highlighted the need for Salem to have a Museum dedicated to all of Salem's history, not just any single event, where visitors can trace the steps of Salem's history under one roof. Below is today's Salem News press release, written by Tom Dalton, outling some of the details should you wish to read it in it's entirety.
Thanks Gordon College. Good job Tom.

SALEM — There is a new museum coming to town, and it is not — trumpets, please — a witch museum.
The Museum of Salem is scheduled to open in April on the first floor of Old Town Hall. Under the leadership of Gordon College, which manages the historic property on Front Street, planning has been under way for months.

This museum — maybe "gallery" is a better term — will use a series of large, interpretive display panels to tell the city's story from its Native American beginnings to its 21st-century present.
The museum won't neglect the infamous witchcraft trials of 1692, but it won't dwell on them, either. After all, those tragic events are fully covered in other places and are but a brief moment in nearly four centuries of history.

"It will have a significant place, but no more significant than some of the other major contributions that Salem has made to our nation's history," said David Goss, director of museum and historic studies at Gordon.
"We're hoping it will put the Salem witchcraft trials into its proper historic context and not overshadow, to so great a degree, all of the other things that have happened in Salem's history."

The Salem museum will be a place, Goss said, where visitors can begin an exploration of the city, get an overview of what happened here and, hopefully, find the answer to the question: Why does Salem matter?
Goss, who is spearheading this project, can answer that question in a hundred different ways.

"Salem is one of the very earliest of American settlements — that makes us significant," he said. "We are also instrumental in helping establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This was the first capital of the Mass Bay Colony prior to Boston. ...
"I guess we were the beachhead, we were the Normandy, when you think of the Puritan arrival in the New World."

Even before the Puritans, there was life in Salem. Originally called Naumkeag, this was the site of an important Native American settlement.
"The path that is Essex Street was a pre-Colonial path that was used by the natives," Goss said. "It went from downtown Salem way out to Winter Island."

As is told so well at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, this was once a major seaport. This new museum will highlight Salem as a fishing port, a center of the China trade and home base for privateers during the American Revolution.
Salem also has interesting links to the Civil War, westward expansion and even the Gold Rush, all of which will be explored.

"The first mayor of San Francisco was the former mayor of Salem," Goss said.
A lot of people are working behind the scenes on The Museum of Salem, which is receiving funding from Gordon College and other sources.
Kristina Wacome-Stevick of Gordon College, the artistic director of "History Alive!" helped get the project off the ground.

Agnes Howard and Emerson "Tad" Baker, history professors at Gordon and Salem State University, respectively, have made significant contributions, as has John Goff, president of the nonprofit Salem Preservation Inc. and a local authority on Salem's early history.
Maryellen Smiley, a former curator at the Wenham Museum, is serving as curator on this project and pulling a lot of the material together. Gordon students have been working as researchers.

The interpretive panels, which will include art work and depictions of famous figures in the city's history, are being done by Great Island Design of Salem, which is run by Debra Glabeau and Ken Harris.
The museum is expected to hold a "soft opening" in April and add more interpretive panels in the following weeks.

On April 21, the museum planning team will headline a special 7:30 p.m. program at Old Town Hall, which will introduce the new museum to the public.

1 comment:

TerriD said...

That is great - A MUST see this April :-)