CAMBRIDGE - The Dorchester County Historical Society has spent the last year and a half growing exhibits, initiating new events, revamping their Museum Shop and improving their offerings. Reorganization from the inside has also been approached with the help of a new board of trustees, the appointment of an executive director and the recommendations of SCORE advisors Fred Smyth and George Howie.
"It seemed like we had been stagnant for many years. The truth was that the museum had been growing at an incredible pace and we were unable to harness it" said Ann Phillips, executive director.
The most notable change was the decision to begin trading as Heritage Museums and Gardens of Dorchester. Newly enhanced exhibits are included in the reconfiguration of the Neild Museum, a local mainstay, celebrating Dorchester's agricultural heritage. The addition of audio pieces to the exhibits serves to enhance the story with a personal addition. As the result of oral histories taken during the society's ongoing Recording Dorchester project, volunteers have edited these pieces to be included within the exhibit spaces. Mildred Seward, interviewed in 2012, became the first addition to the Neild in the Farm Kitchen. Almost two dozen of these interactives are in the works for the rest of the site and will include a short biography and photo of the subject.
In addition to improving exhibits, a committee was formed to change the Museum Shop. This shop needed dedicated attention to help generate funds for the operations of the organization.
"Our customers are looking for special, one of a kind gifts. This becomes an eclectic mix of local books, art, antiques, gardening gifts, china..and on and on," said committee chair Jeanne Bernard
The committee has active shoppers, constantly on the look out for Dorchester inspired merchandise. Also planned for 2013 are artist's shows and book signings. The gardens and waterfront areas of the campus are also receiving renewed attention. The goal is to create a eco-friendly site that will become Baywise certified. In 2012, new plantings were installed on the waterfront side of the Robbins that are native to the area. This has been in conjunction with Environmental Concern and the Master Gardeners from the area.
DCHS is also introducing the Heritage Gold Plan in 2013. A family that joins will receive benefits, like free dessert and 10 percent off and free admission, at more than 20 other local venues and museums. The cost of membership is $45.
At the $100 level of membership, the member would receive not only those Heritage Gold Plan perks, but those of the North American Reciprocal Museum. NARM includes more than 500 museums throughout North America. Local participants include the Academy of Art in Easton and the Ward Museum in Salisbury. With NARM, a DCHS member enjoys the same benefits as those held by regular members of the site.
For more information, contact Ann Phillips at email@example.com, on Facebook or at 410-228-7953. The Heritage Museums and Gardens of Dorchester can be found at 1003 Greenway Drive in Cambridge and at www.dorchesterhistory.org.