Volunteers with the Milton Historical Museum are preparing to open the museum to community members for the 2023 season.
Museum doors will open to the public at 10 a.m. on May 6, located at 13 School Street. The museum will remain open every Saturday until October.
What is new this year at the Milton Historical Museum
Community members have quite a bit to look forward to this year in the museum. The Milton Historical Society’s dedicated group of volunteers have continued to meet every Wednesday to discuss new ideas for the museum and ways to keep visitors engaged.
“We want to tell community members the story of what they are seeing,” volunteer Nan Marotti said. “So anytime we are putting up an exhibit we are doing the research to tell that story.”
This year there are a few new exhibits. For the first time there will be an exhibit detailing the history of the museum building, with pictures and artifacts from the 1800s and 1900s. There will also be a Wash Day exhibit, featuring limestone and soap production as well as laundry artifacts.
“We discover things as we go along. We're putting in another couple of displays. We put up one about a fisherman in town who had caught a pretty big sturgeon,” shared volunteers Charlie Farrell and Rick Stowell. “We are always trying to stay Milton-focused in our stories and exhibits for the community.”
The group is also working on an exhibit about a baseball player from Milton who was a Major League Baseball player back in the early 1900s.
History of the museum
What is now known as the Milton Historical Museum was once a spot where the Trinity Episcopal Church congregated. After the building was built in 1891, the church came together to put 27 items into a box, which still lies in the cornerstone of the museum today.
Some items put into the box in 1891 include a stone from Greece, newspapers, a prayer book and other church literature. The cornerstone was laid in May of 1891, and the church was ready for services in December that same year.
“You can still see items in the museum that are on display from when this building was a church,” said historical society volunteer Jim Ballard. “The chandelier and windows are just some of the things you see that are gifts from various churches and individuals. They have remained here since the building was constructed in 1891.”
In 1997, the Town of Milton purchased the church for the use of it as a museum. After renovations were done, the doors were opened to the public in 2001.
The building was deconsecrated by a bishop, and returned the property to secular usage.
Who are the dedicated volunteers?
The museum was created by the Milton Historical Society, a non-profit organization that was established in 1978. The society is a group of community members dedicated to preserving Milton’s rich history through education, exhibits and community outreach.
With support from sponsors, membership dues, merchandise sales and donations the museum has continued to be an incredible asset to the community of Milton.
When you enter the lobby of the museum, you will be immediately greeted by a volunteer who will assist you. Volunteers offer expansive knowledge on the exhibits and are the ones who made the museum you see today possible.
“We have worked to reimagine the museum to keep it fun and exciting for community members,” said volunteer Louis Mossey. “We keep refreshing it so people come back.”
The museum is run entirely by volunteers and is not funded by the town. Work to keep the museum maintained is done by volunteers, and they put their own time and efforts into the building. Funding to support the museum is solely from donations, merch sales and membership dues. The museum remains free to the public.
“When we come up with ideas for exhibits, we think of what people want to see and are interested in,” Marotti said. ”We try to find stuff for everyone.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic shutting the museum down for two years, the volunteers banded together and used that time to put in work. Those who worked on the museum during that time call themselves the “Reimagining Committee.” The committee spent those two years cleaning, painting, planning, sorting, and researching brand new exhibits that would be featured in the 2022 grand reopening of the museum.
“We even had some high school kids as volunteers; they were really great and helpful with the painting and just creating new ideas,” Mossey said. “People just jumped in with what their talents were and they were encouraged to do what they wanted to.”
In that 2022 grand reopening, some of the new exhibits included farming in Milton, the flood of 1927 and an interactive Milton history learning experience.
Volunteers have also worked on a scavenger hunt for kids to enjoy while exploring the museum. If a child completes the scavenger hunt, they will receive a prize.
“We are always looking for more volunteers,” said volunteer Kym Duchesneau. “You can reach out to us to volunteer through our website, Facebook or email.”
To support the museum, Milton residents can sponsor the museum with a $100 annual fee; or become a member of the Milton Historical Society for an annual fee of $15 a person, or $30 per family. More information on membership and donations can be found on the Milton Historical Society website.
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