“Out with the old, in with the new,” isn’t the most obvious museum motto — “Out with the old, in with the older,” seems more appropriate. But when it came time for Sherman Museum Director Dan Steelman to temporarily retire his Museum’s exhibit on the city’s former Woodmen Circle Home, Steelman elected to move his institution into uncharted territory.
“The Woodmen Circle items had been out there quite awhile, and after a couple of years, especially with artifacts, you want to take them off of display. They call it ‘resting,’” explained Steelman. “Because of light and other things, you want to put them away for a few years and then you can bring them back. It just extends the life of these objects.
“So it was time to bring those and store them, and so we just thought, ‘What can we do with that space?’ And that’s when we came up with Kid’s Corner.”
Museum staff has worked over the previous weeks to clear out the old Woodmen photos, digitizing them in the process. In their place, the Museum relocated its mock archeology dig site into the Woodmen room. It’s a move they hope will be permanent, said Museum Assistant Director Alee McKinney.
“We wanted to have something for the kids to do all year long, and the kids just love digging in the sand,” said McKinney. “And we were thinking we could adapt this (dig site) to go with other exhibits we have — like when we have tribes, we’ll have arrowheads in it, or if it’s Easter, we’ll put Easter eggs in it. … So our thought was, we’ll give people something to round the kids up, head to the museum, and bring the kids out. I mean, I have a two- and three-year-old, and we’re always looking at what we can go do and have our kids while we do it. So this is perfect.”
But considering the importance of the Woodmen Circle Home in the city’s history, Steelman said it was important to him to preserve the information on the former orphanage for viewing. In order to accomplish that goal, the director is in the process of creating an online exhibit containing all of the materials from the former display.
“I think the main advantage is whenever you put something online, you broaden the scope of your audience; anybody who has access to a computer and can get to your URL can find that information,” said Steelman. “We’ll have the same photographs online with the captions that we had downstairs.”
It’s an effort to achieve the best of both worlds, said Museum staff.
“We needed to have the kids area down there, so we created just a place where the kids can go and play,” said Steelman. “Before this, we really didn’t have anything that’s very kid-friendly here, and it’s important to us to try and build more of a kid-friendly museum.”