The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Museum to get started online
BY KATIE THISDELL
Visiting a museum may conjure images of stone buildings with climate-controlled galleries and plenty of artifacts and accompanying plaques to explain their historic significance.
But what if you don’t yet have the money for a building or for the artifacts to fill the glass cases? Should plans be put on hold?
No, say members of the Stafford County Museum and Cultural Center Foundation, who have grand plans for a county museum one day.
Meanwhile, they’re taking the first steps toward a virtual museum.
“Museums are no longer static buildings where artifacts are collected,” Commissioner of Revenue Scott Mayausky recently told the county Board of Supervisors.
Mayausky, who is also vice president of the museum foundation, described the benefits of creating an online presence in the community before constructing a physical meeting space. The hope is that a website—with podcasts, photos, videos and more—would create some excitement and buzz, he said.
Inspiration comes from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in the works for more than 10 years. Ground was broken in February on the National Mall, and construction could be completed in 2015.
For now, a gallery is set up at the National Museum of American History, but the rest of the museum is found online at nmaahc.si.edu.
By being online first, Stafford can begin to tell stories, create a community, compile content and reach out to residents, Mayausky said.
“The artifacts aren’t the story, they’re just the tool to help tell the story,” Mayausky said at the meeting with supervisors.
Now, several artifacts are being kept at the Fredericksburg Area Cultural Museum and the Smithsonian Institute.
“When you start accumulating them, you have to maintain them,” Mayausky said.
And you have to start paying for them.
Costs for a museum could be millions of dollars, estimated Stafford tourism manager M.C. Moncure.
The county started collecting money through the transit occupancy tax several years ago. The Board of Supervisors borrowed it for other purposes when budget times were rough, but the money is once again earmarked in the general fund. There’s a little more than $1 million for the museum.
The idea for a county museum came about in 1965, long before high-tech, online museums were the norm.
Building a website with the right capabilities and content management system, along with creating the content, could cost about $80,000, Mayausky estimated.
An actual building could cost millions.
Moncure stressed the importance of using the right lens when planning a museum.
“If you give too many messages, it frustrates the visitor,” she said. “It doesn’t educate, it makes them cranky.”
The museum would showcase the county’s history in a way similar to the timeline mural at Stafford Hospital. Artifacts include projectile points from the American Indian time period, pipe stems from Colonial times and pig iron from the forge off U.S. 17.
Once the museum is founded virtually, Moncure hopes to increase fundraising efforts.
Stafford’s museum could help connect residents first through social media and then through physical interaction, organizers say.
“Stafford has a very diverse population these days. A lot of people who live here haven’t lived here very long and may not live here very long,” Moncure said. “Everyone wants to be proud of the place they live. What a museum can do and really should do is be a cultural crossroads. That would be a wonderful thing and a great place.”
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975