You’d think that the Museum workload would be much slower when we are closed during the winter. But, the opposite is actually the case.
Of course, a wintertime closure allows us to inventory the Gift Shop, update some exhibits, and catch up on some paperwork. But, it’s also the peak season for writing grant requests, developing and scheduling festival and fundraising events, and for updating museum brochures, school trip flyers, and camp registration forms. And, all those changes include updates to associated tracking systems and calendar entries, web page updates, and print and social media updates. This year has been like most other years…we’re chasing our tails trying to get everything done. Surprisingly, we’re not sure how, but we’re actually a little ahead of the game this year.
So, since we have a minute or two of free time on our hands, we decided to take on some other projects this winter. The first of those efforts is the replacement of our defunct accessibility lift for the Carriage House building. The Carriage House is really our only facility that can be used for meetings, classes, or events during the colder months and our own facility capable of housing up to 50 people. So, having full access to the building is essential to our members and guests. To solve this access challenge, we are now replacing the lift with an accessibility ramp, thanks to the generosity of our community. Participating organizations donating money, manpower or materials include Yorktown Rotary Club (Team Leader), Rotary International, Chandler Landscaping, WestRock Company, Rappahannock Concrete, CA Barrs Contractor, Yorktown Bolt, Gloucester ACE Hardware, and donors, and the many volunteers from these organizations, US Coast Guard, Boy Scouts of America, Rescue Dive Teams from York County and other local municipalities, and our own Boat Crew and Museum Members. We expect to finish the project before the Museum reopens on April 2nd.
Another project we worked on was making some major repairs to our waterfront pier. The pier had suffered some significant damage during the storms at the end of last year. Numerous decking planks were broken partial loose or totally dislodged. Many of the boards that were completely broken loose from the pier were recovered from the water shortly after the storms. So, over the course of two days this month, Museum volunteers and staff replaced over 20 heavy deck boards and repaired or reinforced at least as many more.
But, we still had a few extra moments of time on our hands. So, two days ago, we started another effort. Ten NASA Langley employees formed the Furloughed Feds Team and came out to help us. They repaired some of our existing beach boardwalk and educational platform areas and then installed a new boardwalk section on our upriver beach area. When the project is complete in a few weeks, this new boardwalk segment will connect to a second educational platform that will be highly used for school field trips, camps, festivals and other activities.
If weather cooperates and we have enough volunteers during the rest of our winter closure, we hope to get at least some of the following other items accomplished: install floor decking inside the educational kiosk we call the Henry gunboat hull, clean the Museum top-to-bottom, paint the inside walls and casework in the Carriage House, install additional security camera systems outside the Museum, finish repairs on our pier, install a Point of Sale system in the Gift Shop (to manage all sales, admissions and other Museum transactions), repair both our antique front and back doors, repaint our handmade outdoor signs, and refurbish our wonderful Betsy colonial ship in front of the main building. (To be honest, we have a lot more things we’d like to do. But, we don’t want to overwhelm anyone with our list.)
As you can see, we set our goals very high, especially for a place with only 2 full-time employees. But, you can’t reach the stars if you aim low. Our volunteers make everything possible! Last year we were selected as 2018 Best Small Museum by Chesapeake Bay Magazine and 2018 Peninsula Gold for Summer Camps by Coastal Virginia Magazine. And, we have been selected as a 2019 Virginia Top Wedding Venue by Virginia Living Magazine (our fourth award in five years).
Your support through donations and volunteer man-hours enable this little museum to provide wonderful educational programs and events. So, if you’re looking for something to do in the community or no a friend who is looking, please look our way. Help us achieve even greater heights. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 757-887-2641.