Stillwater’s History Museum reflects on 2017 and looks forward to 2018

The Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar presented the 11th season of the Cool Classics Summer Concert Series.

Story and photos provided by Amy Loch, Director of Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar

It has been another exciting year at the Sheerar Museum. Over the course of the last year, the organization has undergone several major developments. This June, the Board of Trustees hired me as the new Director; in August, they voted to change the name of the museum to the Stillwater History Museum at the Sheerar, and in 2018 the museum will be premiering several new public programs.  

As I look back on the last several months, I am proud of what the museum has accomplished, and I am excited to see what the next year will hold. If you are not familiar with the museum, we are Stillwater’s history museum. We tell thought-provoking stories of Stillwater’s past and seek to connect visitors to these stories through interactive experiences and connections to modern issues. In 2017, the museum launched a new website, continued its award-winning 3rd grade school program and hosted the eleventh season of “Cool Classics.”  In September, we opened two new feature exhibits which will be on display until the summer of 2018. “How Dry Was It? Prohibition in Stillwater” tells the controversial story of alcohol in Payne County from the territorial period through today. Meanwhile, “Inside the Fallout Shelter: Civil Defense in Stillwater” takes visitors back to the Cold War era, where visitors can learn about fallout shelter preparedness, how to use a Geiger counter, and how Stillwater staged a mock nuclear attack on the city in 1965.

On November 1st the museum also opened a traveling quilt exhibit from the American Quilt Study Group featuring Civil War inspired quilts. This exhibit, which will be on display until February 11th, will be featured at the Holiday Open House on December 7th from 5:30 to 6:30, just before the downtown Christmas parade.  We will also be highlighting some Christmas items from our collection to get you in the spirit, and children of all ages will be able to make old fashioned paper ornaments at the museum throughout the month of December.

As the year draws to a close, the Board of Trustees and staff are looking ahead to our strategic planning session this January. Strategic planning is an effective way to bring people together to think about where we are, the road ahead and how to best accomplish new goals. One of the ongoing goals of the museum is to continue to engage the community through programming and fundraising. Every winter, the museum hosts its annual Associate Membership Drive to support the museum’s mission of collecting, preserving, and interpreting Stillwater’s history. You can become an Associate by stopping by the museum or by accessing our new website. Associates get notice of upcoming museum events, quarterly museum newsletters, and donor recognition in the museum. Higher levels of support also entitle you to museum gift shop discounts and an invitation to special museum events. Without the support of our Associates and other donors, we would not be able to keep our museum free to the public. Even if you cannot give financially, everyone can show support for their local history museum by visiting it and participating in museum programming.  

For families, we have recently refreshed our hands-on education carts and added a new scavenger hunt with prizes. Starting in January, we will be premiering our new exploration series, where one Saturday a month the museum will host interactive experiences for children centered on different historic themes. Some of the highlights include “exploring great-grandma’s kitchen”, “woodworking discovery”, and “you be the curator”.  

This spring we will host a “Preserving Your Family Treasures” workshop, which will be open to the public. Participants will be invited to bring in their own family treasures in order to learn how to best care for and display these items within their homes. Unlike Antiques Roadshow, this event is all about the care of the items, so no appraisals will be given.

In March, the museum will be presenting an exhibit on oil in Payne County. This exhibit will partner with the Stillwater Public Library community read of the book “Killers of the Flower Moon.” We will also be hosting two book discussions at the museum that the public is welcome to attend.

These are just a few of the things that are in development for 2018. To learn more about the museum’s upcoming programs check out our webpage or Like us on Facebook. If you have ideas of what you would like to see at the museum, please let us know. This is the community’s museum and we want to ensure we have been developing programs and exhibits that the community is interested in engaging.

If you haven’t visited in a while, please stop by and see what is new. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 11-5 and Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4. Admission is free to the public, but donations are always appreciated.  

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