Museum needs space

Largely because of docent Amy Rhudy’s irresistible enthusiasm and dedication to her job, traffic at the Blount County Memorial Museum keeps increasing. And by the time visitors leave, she knows what their interests are, whether the museum contains articles or records relative to those interests, and if not, why not.

She readily picks up on hobbyists’ collections and artists’ and craftsmen’s creations and then and there asks to borrow them for showing. Think Indian artifacts, reptiles, archeological finds, quilts, coffee grinders, paintings, bottles, painted porcelains. Such things not only interest the public; they recognize the collectors and the creators.

If Amy had a job description, she wouldn’t let it box her in and limit what she can do for the museum, for the community. The organization that reaches out to families of servicemen and -women stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan gravitated to the museum for their meetings and brain-storming.

She had a hand in the veterans’ visit to Washington, D.C., and in the Veterans Day parade. She initiated the search for a photograph of every Blount County veteran, and she welcomes any related memorabilia.

Could be she’s doing too good a job. The museum is bursting at the seams, and its lack of space will sorely limit historical and genealogical records it can accept and pictures and objects it can display.

But museums aren’t high on the public’s list of priorities nor of officials’ who allocate funds, especially during a severe economic downturn. But museums are a meaningful place to house and preserve information and objects that decades down the road will reflect how we’re living now, the culture of the times. And the older they become, the greater their significance.

The newspaper urges county commissioners and their chairman to visit the museum, recognize what a growing gem it is, and find a way to expand the attractive building, situated on county property with room to grow.

– mh