This weekend marks the beginning of a special celebration 100 years in the making for one community staple in New London. The New London Public Museum will officially honor its centennial Saturday night at Crystal Falls, but Museum Director Christine Cross says they plan to make it a year-long celebration.
“You’re only 100 once, so we decided to take this entire year to celebrate,” said Cross. “We’re going to start with a big birthday bash on Saturday, but then we’re going to continue the celebration with a variety of events throughout the year, including lectures and workshops, vintage movies, new exhibits, and just have a lot of fun throughout the whole year.”
Cross explains that who better to celebrate with than the people of the New London community who help make the museum’s operation possible. They are one of five in the state, however, the other four in Wisconsin are located in much bigger cities, but operating on a smaller scale allows the museum to provide a more intimate experience.
“There’s a lot of civic pride in the museum and there’s a lot that’s gone into preserving this collection,” Cross said of the museum’s unique experience. “It’s a small museum, it has a nice collection, and we really can kind of personalize the experience here.”
That’s why Cross says so much work goes into making sure the museum has something different to offer community members.
“We’re really just trying to keep the museum relevant to the community through changing exhibits, or educational programming. We’re trying to really remain part of our community and try to serve the community the best way that we can.”
This is done with programs, such as lifelong long learning tours, which is a private tour of the museum. Typically feature exhibits change annually, with other smaller exhibits cycled ever few months. This year, however, will be a little different with the 100-year celebration, something Cross was excited to help organize.
“I really wanted to focus not just on the museum, but on the community because really, yes it’s a celebration of the 100th birthday of the museum, but we would not be here without our community,” Cross explained of the planning for the upcoming year. “I wanted to try to do things that would interest them, would get them excited, and that would bring them into the museum again.
In the upcoming year, a special exhibit will highlight the making of the public museum, there will be workshops on past culinary traditions, preserving headstones, photos, 1917 book club, and much more.
The New London Public Museum will also have an opportunity to win prizes through filling out a game board with pieces you can earn each time you visit. There is a grand prize drawing to be held in August once the board is filled, which will be a surprise that Cross says the museum won’t share just yet.