On Wednesday evening the Wabash County Historical Museum announced several organization and program changes during their annual Christmas at the Museum banquet.
The first, and most noticeable change, is that the Wabash County Historical Museum changed their name to the Wabash County Museum and introduced a new logo and brand. The need for this change stemmed from the Museum’s desire to better reflect their growing program reach and connect with a wider demographic, including young adults and youth. Mitch Figert, CEO and President of the Museum aspires to get the younger generation excited about local history.
“The word historical is implied. We’re a museum, so history is our specialty,” said Figert. “The goal of this name change is to be able to better appeal to the younger generation. Although our history is unchanging, the appearance and social culture of the Museum is continuously developing along with the times.”
The Wabash County Historical Museum employed Bad Apple Graphics to design a new logo that incorporates their values, such as community engagement, an interest in local history, and the inspiration of families.
“Our company has enjoyed working with the team at the Museum on numerous projects,” shared Kelly Cupp, owner of Bad Apple Graphics. “Working on this new logo was a chance to capture the history or Wabash County while blending in many of the new and creative approaches being taken at the Museum.”
The Museum also announced two new membership levels and a new relationship to make enjoying the Wabash County Museum and other museums around the country more accessible.
First, Figert announced a grant of $5,000 from the Community Foundation of Wabash County to implement a Family Access Membership program. The Family Access Membership program allows families from Wabash County who are receiving public assistance, or who get a referral from a local educator, to receive a no-cost annual membership to the Wabash County Museum.
“Programs like this are available in larger communities throughout the country and we used their best practices to bring a similar program to our community,” said Figert. “We recognize based on both data and community partnerships that there are families who have limited access to arts and cultural opportunities and we want to ensure that barrier has been removed.”
By offering the Family Access Membership program, the Museum will be able to welcome more families into the Museum who previously did not have access.
“One of the foundation’s interests is driving up the educational attainment levels of Wabash County citizens. However, not all education happens in the classroom. Education and cultural enrichment comes from many parts of the community, including the Wabash County Museum,” said Julie Garber, Program Director at the Community Foundation of Wabash County. “With this grant, we open the doors to all the opportunities that the museum has to offer to everybody without any barriers. Judging from the crowds at Family Fun Nights, our community is hungry for these opportunities and children are ready to gobble up information and experiences. Thanks to the museum for its contributions to education and growth.”
In addition to the Family Access Membership, Figert announced that the Museum has joined an initiative with the Institute for Museum and Library Services called Museums for All. As part of this program anyone receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) will be entitled to free admission to the Museum. By joining this initiative, the Museum joins more than 300 museums nationwide who work to ensure families are able to enjoy quality arts and cultural programming with no barriers.
“The Museum has become a favorite spot for local and regional families to enjoy,” said Shelby McLaughlin, Vice President of the Wabash County Museum. “It is exciting to welcome such a wide range of ages and interests and to be able to provide exhibits and programming that appeal to all.”
The Wabash County Museum has taken significant strides to ensure their exhibits and programming are welcoming to guests of all ages. During the program, Figert shared the recent screenings that have been possible through a partnership with PBS and thanks to the improvements to the Crystal Gayle Theater. The Museum has also made significant improvements to many exhibits and plans to make major renovations to the Parkview Wabash Education Center and other exhibits in 2020. Figert alluded to an announcement in the near future about their programming and exhibits geared towards young children.
“We are committed to remaining a Museum that is focused on preserving our local history,” said Figert. “These changes, and others that will be announced soon, will continue to make the Museum an active part of the community that is engaging and welcoming to a diverse audience. We are continually grateful for the support the community provides to the Museum to continue to allow us to expand our reach.”
The Museum also released statistics for 2019 which included an increase in annual attendance now totaling just over 20,000 guests. Educational visits from seven counties throughout Northeast Indiana, fourteen on-site classroom visits, and a significant increase in attendance during monthly Family Fun Nights.
The Wabash County Historical Museum would like to thank the community for their continuous support. For more information, contact the Wabash County Historical Museum at (260) 563-9070 or visit their website at www.wabashmuseum.org.