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New season to begin at Prairie Village Museum

By Staff | Apr 22, 2011

A new season with a host of new beginnings is in store for the Prairie Village Museum this year. The changes were presented and discussed at the annual meeting of the Geographical Center Historical Society Tuesday, April 12.

Board vice-president, Linda Lysne, introduced the new executive director Cathy Jelsing, who spoke briefly about some of the changes.

To bring the museum schedule into alignment with other historic sites in the state, the museum will be open to the public May 15 until September 16, and the hours will be Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., except Thursdays when the closing time will be 7 p.m. A major change is opening on Sunday mornings. It was thought this would encourage visits by tourists who have spent Saturday night in Rugby, and who wouldn’t want to wait until 1 p.m. on Sunday to tour the museum. Churches would also have access to the grounds for special services or church picnics, something which has been successful at other museums.

In an effort to brighten the front entry area of the museum, it will be painted off-white by groundskeeper, Gerald Harmel and his assistant, Kenny Blessum. “That should make the exhibits just pop,” Jelsing said. “Also, we will have a more prominent display out front, an explanation of the time period and the community the museum represents.”

The Historical Society has updated their website with new information, and the museum now is also set up for email at prairievillagemuseum@gmail.com.

All membership information has been inputted into an Excel spreadsheet, another first for the museum. The newsletter has been reformatted and given the name “The Prairie Times”, according to Jelsing.

One of Jelsing’s goals is to involve the whole community in identifying and labeling all the artifacts in the museum. She strongly believes that things have more value when they have a written history behind them. Janet Miller suggested each item should be photographed as well. Long-time volunteer and former curator Richard Blessum said many things are already documented.

School tours, which have been successful in the past, will be continued. “I’d love to do more things with students,” Jelsing said.

The museum plans to stay open later on Thursday evenings this season in an attempt to attract more families. “We want to have Thursday night activities,” Jelsing said. Linda Lysne added, “To get the community to come and do something together as a family.” Suggestions included making s’mores, old-fashioned games, a craft project, or a scavenger hunt.

Sunday, July 3, the board will serve a pancake breakfast at the museum during the combined All-School Reunion and Pierce County 125th Celebration. “We are purchasing a few new picnic tables through Hardware Hank,” board member Dave

Bednarz said. Musical entertainment in conjunction with the breakfast is also a possibility according to Jelsing.

A raffle will be held again this year with prizes of a John Deere Gator and two quilts. The drawing will be held at the annual Village Fair, scheduled for August 14.

Board members Randy Myers and Richard Davidson were re-elected, and Elvin Anderson was chosen to serve his first term. Other board members are Lysne, Bednarz, Mitzi Mettler, Tim Ostrem, Arden Warner and Hubert Seiler.

The board has set April 30 as a cleaning day, also a new event. They are hoping volunteers will sign up to spend a few hours or the whole day shining up the buildings and displays. Meals and snacks will be furnished by the museum. To volunteer, call the board secretary, Mitzi Mettler, 776-5474. A head count is needed to plan for food. “The cleaning day is something we haven’t done for a long time, if ever,” Jelsing said. “We’re already getting a good number of volunteers. It should be an exciting kickoff for the season.”

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