The Wyandot County Museum will open Saturday for the 2012 season, which marks the 50th year at the Beery/McConnell House at 130 S. Seventh St., Upper Sandusky.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary, the Wyandot County Historical Society has added new permanent exhibits and made improvements to existing exhibits.
“We’ve been busy over the winter, moving everything around, cleaning all the cases and rehabbing cases, relighting and moving the displays,” museum curator Ronald Marvin Jr. said. “Even people that visited last summer, it’s going to be a completely different look to them.”
The highlight of the main floor is a new walk-through streetscape featuring a general store and pharmacy, as well as barber, cobbler, carpenter and blacksmith shops, all located at the rear of the museum’s first floor.
“I was looking for something kind of new and different and we had a lot of miscellaneous pieces and I wasn’t sure what to do with a lot of them, so I came up with the idea of creating a general store,” Marvin said. “We have a lot of little food containers and a pharmacy. … It’s kind of one of the more interesting areas.”
Also new this year is the U.S.S. Wyandot display.
“We have images of the three ships that were named U.S.S. Wyandot — two of them actually named after counties that were named for the Wyandot Indians,” Marvin said. “There also is a cargo ship from World War II that was named for Wyandot County. … We have the history of the three ships on display as well.”
New items have been added to the fashions, military and Wyandot Indian rooms.
“Many artifacts now on display have been in storage or were previously located in other rooms,” Marvin said. “It is hoped that the numerous changes will encourage visits by persons who have not been to the site recently.
“In a lot of the displays, like the Wyandot Indian room, we just kind of updated the displays we had,” Marvin added. “We have a little more on Col. Crawford, the treaty that led to the Wyandot Reservation and some more stone tools.”
The Wyandot history room, previously located on the second floor now is on the first floor of the museum, along with an oddities room. The history room is filled with information and items on ghost towns, churches, schools and more.
“The idea is when visitors come, especially the out-of-town visitors that don’t know the history of the area, in the front parlor we can talk about the history of the historical society and the home and the families. Then we can talk about the history room and the history of Wyandot County. … Each case is about a specific thing in Wyandot County history. … There’s quite a bit of history in there.
“Previously, (the history room) had a lot of dishes and dolls in it and a lot of those have been moved upstairs. The dolls have their own room with the children’s tea sets and the dishes have been kind of incorporated into some other displays.”
On the second floor, the former Wyandot history room now is the doll room and the neighboring military room has been updated.
“We added some World War II, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Korea pieces,” Marvin said. “Before, it kind of ended at the start of World War II. We had a lot of Spanish-American and World War I stuff, but really not a lot of modern things.”
The Civil War items previously in the military room now are in the hallway just outside the room, which features a display dedicated to Cyrus Sears, a Wyandot County man who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1862.
“We moved the Civil War artifacts out of the room into the hallway and created a Civil War hallway,” Marvin said. “This gave us more room to put some of the World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm things in the room and add a little more of the later history. A lot of it is souvenirs that were collected and brought back.”
The second-floor fashions room is decked out in a wedding theme, including an early 1900s-era wedding dress.
“In the late 1800s, it was common place that when you had weddings, you sent the gifts beforehand and usually the bride’s family would open them up and display all of them on a table within a parlor or a reception area,” Marvin said. “When people came to visit, all of the gifts would be sitting out so we have a table-top display of wedding gifts.
“Before the room had a mourning theme and it was kind of dark and dreary,” Marvin added. “I wanted to spruce it up, so I took the bride doll from the doll display and placed her in there and I put the dress and women’s shoes from the period.”
Opening day festivities will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. with a flag raising by Boy Scout Troop No. 777. At 2 p.m., Marvin will present a public lecture entitled “The Murders of Wyandot County.” The lecture is included in the cost of admission, which is $2 for adults and $1 for children.
“While conducting research on artifacts in the Wyandot murder case, I discovered many original newspaper articles which shed light on the events associated with the items on display,” Marvin said. “Attendees will learn about the earliest executions in Wyandot County, the stories behind several local murders and their aftermaths, as well as interesting anecdotes recorded in historical documents. Some of these include the Red Slipper Murder, the Hatchet Murder, the Carnival Barker Murder and the Dynamite Murder. This lecture will provide visitors with a better understanding of the unique artifacts on display.”
Following the lecture, Marvin will be available near the display case to answer any questions and light refreshments will be available.
The Wyandot County Museum will be open for walk-in tours from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until October 28. Additional tour dates and times are available by appointment. Group tours can be scheduled by contacting the curator at 419-294-3857.
For more information, visit wyandothistory.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
By CHANDA NEELY