Story and images by Amy Loch, Director of the Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar
When I tell people I work at a history museum, I can usually tell by their reaction how they feel about museums. If I am lucky, they smile and say “I love going to museums.” Being in the museum profession for over fifteen years, I have visited all types of museums across the country. Some experiences were truly memorable, while others have blurred into a haze of similar non-engaging experiences. Museums are often typecast as places that never change, but this is an unfair stigma. Many museums are focused on providing guests with fresh and engaging experiences. At the Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar, we have an exciting year of programs and new exhibits planned to help debunk the myth that museums don’t change.
In January, we opened our newly revised agriculture exhibit “Harvesting the Past and Cultivating the Future.” Like many Oklahoma communities, Stillwater started with agricultural roots. Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (OSU) was created to do research and to educate students on agriculture. In 1891, the college broke ground on the territory’s first “experimental station,” which has led to 127 years of agricultural research and development in Stillwater. Many students have gone on to make major developments from which we all benefit today. This exhibit includes thought provoking facts, children’s activities, and experiments to try at home.
Our new agriculture exhibit was highlighted as part of our new Children’s Exploration series in January, as children learned about where food comes from and how old fashioned kitchen tools were used. Children peeled apples, made butter, rolled out dough, and learned about spices. The children’s exploration series will continue on Sat., Feb. 10, at 2:00 p.m. with our “History Mysteries” program. This program invites children and adults to be the curator by looking at clues to help determine what objects are and what they were used for in the past.
In February, we will have more great programs, including a book talk with Stillwater native, Anne Nelson, about her book “Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris.” The talk will be at noon on Fri., Feb. 9 in the Sheerar Center. Cookies and bottled water will be provided, and participants are invited to bring a lunch. On Feb. 17, join us for Board Game Day at the Museum, featuring a variety of classic and historic games, and snacks will be provided.
Also coming up on Feb. 25 is “Preserving Your Family Treasures.” This program will teach the basics of preserving family treasures at home. Dr. Mark Janzen, Director of the Museum Studies Program at the University of Central Oklahoma, will present the program which will be open to the public at no cost. Attendees are welcome to bring items for specific advice. Display, storage, preservation, and cleaning will be discussed.
For information about additional events and programs, visit our sheerarmuseum.org. If you have ideas of what you would like to see at the museum, please let us know.
All of the highlighted programs are free to the public and will be held inside the Sheerar Center. The museum is located at 702 S. Duncan and is open Tues. through Fri. from 11-5 and Sat. and Sun. from 1-4. Admission is free, but donations are always appreciated. For more information on our upcoming programs and events visit sheerarmuseum.org or call 405-377-0359.