Nearly three hundred people celebrated the reopening of the Natick History Museum this weekend. We have been working since November 2017 to restore the 1880 museum, located at 58 Eliot Street, and we are thrilled to welcome the community back into the transformed space.
Members and friends of the Society attended a special reception on Saturday, October 20, to preview the renovated museum and two new exhibits: Across the Centuries: Looking at Local Objects and Your Dream House: At Home in Postwar Natick.
On Sunday, October 21, more than 150 people visited the museum’s public opening, held in conjunction with Natick Artists Open Studios. Embroidery artist Mary Burke and basket weaver Ron Michael demonstrated their crafts to the delight of all visitors. Young children played with the blocks, books, and dollhouse in the Children’s Corner and many enjoyed trying a c. 1930 typewriter and casting their votes in a 1905 Natick ballot box.
We would like to thank members of the Natick Historical Society for making possible our museum’s transformation!
On October 3, staff and volunteers from more than 20 New England history museums attended a half-day workshop at the Natick History Museum, “Developing Active Collections at Your Museum,” with independent curator and author Rainey Tisdale. The workshop was the first public event to be held in the newly-restored Natick History Museum, which will reopen on October 21.
Tisdale is a co-founder of the influential Active Collections movement, which advocates for leaner, more focused collections at small history museums. The movement urges practical reforms to museum practice, including easing the process of inter-institutional loans, streamlining the deaccessioning of objects lacking provenance or educational value, and assigning collections objects to “tiers” according to their usefulness in sharing important local stories with museum audiences.
“Artifacts are a deeply powerful way to connect with the past,” writes Tisdale, who directed the Old State House Museum for eight years and taught in the Tufts University museum studies program. “But some objects support our missions better than others—not based on monetary value or rarity, but based on the stories they tell and the ideas they illuminate. The ones that provide the most public value should get the largest share of our time and resources.”
Attendees at the October 3 event included curators and directors of small history museums and historical societies throughout Massachusetts and from Connecticut and Maine. Framingham History Center director Annie Murphy called the workshop “fantastic,” adding “I’m going to get [Tisdale’s] book and make it required reading among staff.”
Rainey Tisdale is co-author, with Linda Norris, of Creativity in Museum Practice (2013) and co-editor of Active Collections (2017). For more about the Active Collections movement, please visit www.activecollections.org.