With the building portion complete, the people behind the new Fulton County Museum in Wauseon are now tasked with creating an interior atmosphere to complement both permanent and featured exhibits.
Director John Swearingen Jr. said keys to the new museum were presented a week ago. It’s part of a large complex on State Route 108 that will also house a county welcoming center, the new county headquarters for the Ohio Department of Transportation, and county government offices.
“It’s just what we thought it would be. I’m happy with it,” Swearingen said of the museum space. “Everyone who’s come through has been in awe of the layout.”
With 5,000 square feet of exhibit space available, as compared to 1,000 square feet at the present museum site at 229 Monroe St. in Wauseon, exhibit walls must be constructed and furnishings put in place before the museum’s grand opening in May of 2018.
“It’s basically still a shell,” Swearingen said. Carpeting must be installed and painting completed, and exhibit display cases provided by 2020 Exhibits of Perrysburg must be placed. Planters and antique tools and home furnishings are already in the lobby area.
The Monroe Street museum will close on Nov. 1. That will allow Swearingen and museum volunteers time to inventory its artifacts for a week-long transfer to the new location in March. Artifacts stored in a shed behind the Monroe Street site have been moved and are being cleaned for their appearance in the new museum.
However, due to the sheer volume of the museum’s library, the Spiess Research Room at the new museum may not be ready upon the grand opening. “Some of the shelves will be empty when we first open,” Swearingen said.
The new museum’s first two featured exhibits will be “Latinos in Rural America,” on loan from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and a collection of courthouse paintings from throughout northwest Ohio, provided by Defiance College.
They will be shown alongside 12 permanent, themed exhibits that showcase the environment, archaeology, Native Americans, pioneers, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, industry, and the Depression and World War II, among others subjects.
So far, $570,000 of a $1 million campaign for continued support of the museum has been donated. The facility will also contain an archives, storage space, a volunteer work room, a gift shop, and Swearingen’s office.
Swearingen said the museum continues to look for volunteers, both before and after the new museum opens. “We’ve had a lot of volunteers here. It’s been great,” he said.
The Monroe Street site will be transformed to History Manor, opening Oct. 19, 2018. It will highlight four eras in the building’s long history: a high school in 1885; a private residence in 1905; a hospital in 1925; and an apartment complex in 1945.
The manor will open only for special events, which will still include haunted tours in October.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.