As interior renovations of the old federal building in downtown Seymour continue, organizers of the future Seymour Museum are now looking for ideas on how to display and preserve the community’s history.

On Saturday, the public is invited to participate in a series of focus group meetings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Seymour City Hall.

The meetings will be about an hour long with nonprofit groups scheduled at 10 a.m., local businesses at 11 a.m., educators, school staff and students at noon and families at 1 p.m.

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Participants will discuss what they believe most identifies Seymour, what name the museum should adopt, what additional uses the museum may be able to offer the community and what would attract people to visit the building at Chestnut and Third streets.

Museum board President Lenny Hauersperger said he wants the museum to be more than a place to display relics.

“The Seymour Museum won’t be an artifacts-only museum,” he said. “We want there to be things for people to do, not just see. We want to have an area for public events, a gift shop and space for other nonprofit groups to utilize.”

Besides the focus groups, questionnaires will be made available to classes at Seymour High School and Seymour Middle School to get youth involvement and online for those who can’t make the Feb. 25 meetings.

Others participating in the project are Seymour Museum board members Kevin Greene, Robert Kamman, Rodney Farrow, Charlotte Sellers, Carol King and Phil Hardwick.

The focus groups and questionnaires are the next step in a feasibility study being funded through a $20,000 grant awarded by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs with matching dollars provided by the city of Seymour and the museum board.

“The information gathered through the focus groups will provide us with important ideas on how the museum can best serve the community,” Hauersperger said.

After the information is collected, it will be shared with architect Christine Matheu of Bloomington, who will work with the board to come up with preliminary designs for the museum. Those plans will be presented to the museum board in April and filed with OCRA in May.

All legwork being done now is in preparation of the museum applying for bigger community block grants and corporate sponsors, including a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Historical Society.

“They told us we’ll have a 50 percent chance of receiving one of those grants, so those are pretty good odds,” Hauersperger said.

He also applied for and received a $1,900 grant from JCB to help replace the building’s outdated electrical equipment.

“We appreciate all of the support the community has shown so far,” he said.

The building served as Seymour’s first post office in 1918 before becoming city hall in the 1960s and the police station in the 1990s. Before it was built, the site was the location of the Seymour Times newspaper office and the medical office of its publisher, Dr. J.R. Monroe.

When police moved to the current law enforcement building just a couple of blocks to the east in 2005, then-Mayor Jim Bullard and the city council agreed to lease the federal building to the museum for $1 a year for 49 years.

Mayor Craig Luedeman has continued to show support in his administration for the museum.

If you go

What: Seymour Museum focus group meetings

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday with nonprofit groups scheduled at 10 a.m., businesses at 11 a.m., educators and school representatives at noon and families at 1 p.m.

Where: Seymour City Hall, 309 N. Chestnut St.

Purpose: To answer questions, give input and provide direction on the Seymour Museum

Information: Email Charlotte Sellers at cas.search@gmail.com

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.