Thursday, June 18, 2009

An Important Part of the Community

Since the beginning of the Laurel Horizon Society (the precursor to the Laurel Historical Society) in the 1970s, community members in Laurel have come together to save Laurel's history.

This dedicated group became quite close as they overcame the obstacles to saving their local history. They worked hard to build a quality Historical Society. Our supporters knew of all the great things we were doing for the community preserving and presenting the history and culture of Laurel.

But there was more work to be done!

When I began here last June 2008, I was told that one of the goals of the Laurel Historical Society was to extend our reach further into the community. We needed to let everyone know what great things we had to offer here. And we also needed to know what else we could do for the community.

So for a little over a year now, I've talked to as many people as I can in the community to find out what people know about us and what we can do for them.

In these conversations, I've learned many interesting things.

1) We're often confused with the Historic District Commission.

We are not the Historic District Commission. From what I understand, they work hard to preserve the integrity of the City. From what I understand, they might be the people to contact when you want to put a 20 foot neon sign outside your business.

But I actually don't know all too much about them--because I work for the Laurel Historical Society, not the Historic District Commission. For more information about what the Historic District Commission, visit Karen Lubieniecki's blog. For more information about what the Historical Society does, visit this blog.

2) Many Laurelites don't know there is a Museum.

When I meet people in Laurel--at the dog park, at the grocery store, around town, etc I often hear the same thing: "There's a museum in Laurel?!?"

Yes, there is a Museum in Laurel. And we're here for you! For those of us who know about us, we've become a city treasure.

For those of us who don't know about us, we're a complete surprise. As one little girl told me last week: "I thought I would really hate this place, but I had so much fun!!"

Some of you might be hesitant to come into the Museum--saving it for a raining day when there isn't much else to do. For those people I say--come in! visit! You'll be even more surprised when you see all the fun you've missed out on.

3) Those who know about the Museum have placed our role in a little box. We give tours, we're a good place to drop off the stuff from Grandma's attic and sometimes you can attend a lecture at our Museum.

We're trying to break out of that box. Yes, we have an exhibit. And yes, we do have lectures. We also offer creative children, adult, and family programs. Ever been to a film series at your local Museum? How about entered into a pie-eating contest? Or sampled local businesses food? Our special events have become creative and diverse in their offerings--we'd love to see you try your hand at our next egg toss contest or sit back with some popcorn and enjoy "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

As fun, educational, and lively as our events have become, we are trying to go beyond even the walls of our Museum. We're looking into the community to see what else we can offer to our constituency. We've built partnerships with a diverse group of community organizations. From local libraries to local schools to local businesses, we're working to provide the community with what they need. Whether it is putting together an exhibit for the Library's walls or holding a paper raiser for the local elementary school, we're working to break out of the expectations of what a local Museum should be.

No longer will we sit back and wait for you to come to us. We're coming to you. And asking you what you need. So please, let us know--we're listening.

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