Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lansing museum setting a path for growth

January 18, 2007

Attendance at the Lansing Historical Museum nearly tripled in 2006, the first year that operations were overseen by the City of Lansing. But city staffers say it's just the beginning for the museum.

After her first year at the museum, Laura Phillippi, who became site supervisor on Jan. 3, 2006, is pleased with the growth the museum has shown in a year. In addition to developing the exhibits that are open to the public, Phillippi said, she had been able to assist in various research projects and develop the archive of local photos being stored digitally at the museum.

"I think we got a lot done," Phillippi said. "For example, when we got that photo grant, there were only 100 photos in the Past Perfect database, and now there are 907.

"It makes me happy that we're able to find our photos and help people research."

And beyond the historical research, Phillippi put together a handful of exhibits that drew nearly three times the number of visitors in 2006 than in previous years.

"We had 30 states represented and Germany visitor-wise," Phillippi said. "1,109 people walked through the doors last year.

"I think they had about 400 a year before the city took it over."

And for Phillippi there's great satisfaction in discovering more and more about the history of Lansing and its residents. While preparing the current exhibit on veterans, Phillippi learned about the experiences of many locals - even some she has known as museum volunteers.

"It was interesting to see my mild-mannered volunteers," Phillippi said. "You don't know what they did and then you find out some of the medals they got and where they went when they were in the service."

Phillippi has already planned many events for this year, but has many more ideas for events that she'd like to see happen at the museum that aren't strictly history, like a jazz performance on the lawn.

And while the possibilities are nearly endless, Shanae Randolph, the city of Lansing's director of Economic Devel-opment/Convention and Visitors Bureau, said residents could expect more from the museum as time goes on and the city settles into its operation of the site.

"It was an organizational year just getting the kinks worked out from us assuming responsibility, but it's been a wonderful process," Randolph said.

Both Phillippi and Randolph credit the Lansing Historical Society for enabling a smooth transition for the museum and in helping make the exhibits such a success. Randolph said Phillippi has a talent for organizing the various exhibits and events, and though attendance may have tripled in 2006, it's just a taste of what's to come.

"We were very pleased with all the programming and all the exhibits that have taken place over the last year. They've been well-received by the community and visitors alike," Randolph said. "Laura's doing a wonderful job overseeing the day-to-day operations of the museum."

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