- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) - The Clark County Museum is moving closer to becoming a reality in time for Indiana’s bicentennial next year.

The project, which has been in the works for several years, was recently accepted as an Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. The museum in Jeffersonville is under construction.

“This is a county Bicentennial Legacy project,” Jeanne Burke, co-coordinator of the local legacy project, said. “And it was just meant to be something that lasts longer than just the commemoration of Indiana’s history. And there’s never been a county history museum in Clark County.”

However, Burke and Carl Kramer, co-coordinator of the legacy project, said that funding - estimates total $276,010 for exterior and interior renovations - has been one of the biggest issues facing the completion and progress of the museum.

“And that’s not unusual,” Kramer said. “That’s a problem that local museums, especially local museums that don’t have a government-related affiliation where there’s a dedicated tax levy.

A funding plan was recently proposed to the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau. The museum acquired the property in 2013 and rents it from the city of Jeffersonville.

Jeanne Burke said a lot of the work to date has been done by volunteers or companies donating their time. Help from Stemler Plumbing, Ron Stiller, out of Floyd Knobs doing discounted architectural work - even Boy Scout troops - are some of the local volunteers that have helped bring the museum to this point.

“There’s an awful lot of in-kind work that’s going into this museum,” Kramer said.

Mark Simpson, Charlestown, along with the local carpenters union, is doing the interior framing.

“And he’s coming back to hang the drywall for nothing,” Burke said. “We just have to pay for the materials. They’re volunteering to do the work so that’s an example of how the community is involved.”

However, Burke and Kramer said they will still need community support to get phase one of the project completed by the goal date.

“We’ve been really busy trying to get all that taken care of, trying to apply for grants, appearing before the tourism bureau to try to get grants so that we can finish up. It’s going to take a lot of money to finish this.

Burke said the plan is to get phase one of the museum finished by Sept. 16, 2016, when the Bicentennial torch passes through Clark County. Burke said the torch will be carried right down Michigan Avenue past the museum. On that day, they also plan to have the dedication of the museum.

Kramer said the board has been dedicated to making the project a reality for some time now.

“The first part was to identify major themes in the history of the county,” he said. “Especially major themes that are important that are not otherwise covered by other facilities.”

“And we spent a good deal of time brainstorming that process. And then we established an accession policy. And that is basically setting out, this is what we’re interested in, these are things that we will accept, and these are the things that we don’t want to accept.”

Both Burke and Kramer say they don’t want the museum to duplicate themes that other area museums are covering, although since it’s one community, there will be some connection and overlap at times.

“The Steamboat Museum is the Howard family and steamboats, the Schimpff’s candy museum is candy, the Falls of the Ohio is going to be Falls of the Ohio and fossils. There’s nobody doing county history. So that’s our niche.”

The museum, with the help of several volunteers, is in the process of cataloguing all of the thousands of items it currently has. The museum currently has items, donated and purchased, stored in several locations. The museum also acquired the Howard House at 721 Michigan Ave., which will be used for other museum attractions. That project will begin after the museum is complete.

“We have the artifacts from the old City Cemetery on Mulberry Street as part of our collection and we have artifacts from all over Clark County that were in the Purdue University archaeology collection. They’ve closed out their archaeology program,” Burke said.

They will also be able to use some of the items from the Falls of the Ohio interpretive center before it underwent its renovation.

Burke said they hope to get the Ft. Stueben gates from the Quartermaster Depot that enclosed the South Sally.

“They’re in private hands right now but he has agreed to donate them to us and those would be mounted on the wall,” Burke said. She added that they would like to get a large photo of that entrance “That would be the background and then the gates would be in front of it just like they always were.”

Kramer said that as a Bicentennial Legacy project, it doesn’t have to be something historical.

“There art projects that will carry on and tell something about what the community will be,” he said, as an example. “Because what’s happening this year will be history 25-30, 50 years later. So it’s a matter of recognizing that history isn’t static. And it’s not all those things that just happened in the distant past. And one of the things that this museum will do is have space for new and rotating exhibits. Because we want people to come back and say,’ What’s new?”

“History is made every day,” Burke said.

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Source: News and Tribune, https://bit.ly/1VHHGLx

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Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com


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