A group of people working to create a museum in downtown Seymour may get some help this spring from college graduate students.
Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, professor of anthropology and museum studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and director of the Cultural Heritage Research Center in Indianapolis, visited with members of Seymour Museum Inc. this month to discuss a potential partnership.
Together, they toured the old Federal Building at Chestnut and Third streets, where renovation work continues in preparation for the museum.
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The building was first used in 1918 as a post office. It later became Seymour City Hall and most recently served as the Seymour police station. The city leases the building to the museum for $1 a year, but it has been empty for nearly a decade.
Selective interior demolition has continued this year, and some restored windows with original glass and frames were returned to the front of the building in 2013 through a grant from the Efroymson Foundation.
Kryder-Reid will teach a class this spring on issues faced by administrators and personnel in operating museums and similar cultural institutions. All students pursuing a master’s degree in museum studies at IUPUI are required to take the class, she said.
If the Seymour Museum were selected as a class project, a team of students would visit throughout the semester and evaluate the local situation, review progress and discuss what needs to happen to make the museum successful. At the end of the semester, the class would offer recommendations the museum board could choose to implement.
Lenny Hauersperger, president of the board, said the partnership is not guaranteed to happen yet, but if it does, it would be a huge benefit to both sides.
“She had initially asked if we’d be interested in talking with her, and my first reaction was of course, it’d be a win-win for both of us,” he said. “Our board and their graduate students will learn more about how to set up a museum, and it will help us develop better plans. Their program has a lot of experience in helping museums.”
Besides developing ideas to move the Seymour Museum forward, the class would be responsible for creating a final report in May for the board and making a presentation.
Hauersperger said the project would be a learning experience for all involved and was hopeful it would happen.
“We don’t have to implement their recommendations, but we are willing to learn from them,” he said.
Much progress has been made in the past year in renovating the historic building, Hauersperger added.
Taking place this week, professionals were scheduled to plaster the walls of the old postmaster/mayor office.
“We will have volunteers come in and finish painting after that,” Hauersperger said. “That room should be completed within the next few weeks.”
Also, the final two windows on the north side of the building have been sent off for restoration and should be reinstalled within the next two to three weeks, he said.
In January, the museum board will meet with Trena Carter from Administrative Resources association in Columbus to discuss grant opportunities and Dan Davis, director of the Community Foundation of Jackson County, about the idea of setting up a fund for donations.
“Things are moving along great,” Hauersperger said. “We’ve got more folks wanting to donate things for displays, so we’ll be adding more each month, and we have more groups and individuals wanting to donate labor. So we’ll continue having someone different each month come in to help.”
Plans for the museum call for permanent and rotating exhibits and interactive learning opportunities detailing the history of Seymour, Hauersperger said.
The museum also is receiving support and advice from Indiana Landmarks in Jeffersonville. Greg Sekula, director of the southern regional office, visited last month and expressed his enthusiasm for the board’s progress, Hauersperger said.
Indiana Landmarks is a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and protect architecturally unique, historically significant and community-cherished properties by rehabilitating them and giving them new purposes.
“We’ve used his recommendations often as we’ve continued our work,” Hauersperger said of Sekula. “Greg also has things he’d like to donate, including some beautiful woodwork and possibly some mural art. He’s been a great resource for us.”
How to support the downtown Seymour Museum
For information: Call 812-522-2941 or 812-530-9272.
People also may comment or send messages through the Seymour Museum Inc. Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Seymour Museum.
Tax-deductible donations made payable to Seymour Museum Inc. may be mailed to the museum at PO Box 1138, Seymour IN 47274.