Sunday, December 28, 2008

While you were sleeping...

Remember that old cartoon with the shoe maker? Where, every night while he was asleep the little elves would come into his workshop and make/repair shoes? Well, that's what I'm doing...sort of.

Not over night, but today (Sunday) I came into the quiet and closed museum to do a bit of maintenance: painting walls and replacing exhibit labels. Three coats of paint later, all the pencil marks are off the walls. You can see the line of the new paint vs. the old paint, but with the updated labels and photographs (and one new artifact!), I'm hoping it won't be that noticeable.

Here are a few photos of some of my work today.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Closed for the Holiday

Just a reminder that we'll be closed Wednesday through Friday for the Christmas holiday.

We will be open at our regular hours (10 am to 6 pm) on Saturday, December 27.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Shopping

Make sure you stop by the Museum Store for unique Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. Luckily, the Museum will be open extended hours three days next week to accommodate the holiday shoppers. We'll be open from 11 am to 8 pm on Wednesday, 12/18; Thursday, 12/19; and Friday, 12/20.

Some of the Museum Store's offerings:

Red poppy necklace-- $14
Lily & pearl necklace-- $19
Key & swallow necklace-- $19
Cup & ball-- $3.38

Courthouse bag-- $8
Texas women on the cattle trails-- $29.95
Courthouses of Texas-- $22.95
Bill Pickett-- $16.95
Evolution of a state-- $19.95
Jacks-- $1.50

This and so much more is available at the Museum Store.

Stop by!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Deck the halls...

Well, more like "deck the facade..."

We're all decorated for Christmas. Last night was the Lighting of the Square, and we made sure we were prepared for the big event. We had over 350 people in the Museum last night. There was music, children could make their own snow globes, and we were packed!

Next week, we've got two big events planned: Bob Brinkman will be here for First Friday (December 5) to sign copies of his new book, "Round Rock," and the Christmas Stroll is on Saturday (December 6). We'll be open until 8 pm both days.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And, we're done!

We opened our latest exhibit called Charting History on Friday, November 7. The exhibit opening was held in conjunction with First Friday, and about 250 people attended. This temporary exhibit includes historic maps from the collection of Don Martin, owner of an Austin-based public affairs firm, that date from the 1680s to the 1880s.

A great, big THANK YOU to Central Texas Questers who funded the exhibit and to Gatherings who loaned us the historic doors!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One down, one to go.

We installed the traveling From Småland Sweden to Big Land Texas exhibit this morning at the Round Rock Public Library. They reopen on Monday, November 4, after being closed for renovations, and our exhibit is part of their opening celebrations. I think that the panels and the hands-on trunk turned out very well. I'm excited for the public to view it. Below are a couple of photos taken by Dana as we were installing the exhibit at the Library this morning.

Up next is our special exhibit featuring historic maps dating from 1685 to the mid-1800s. It's called Charting History: Maps from the Don Martin Collection, and it opens next Friday, November 7, at 6:00 pm. Join us at the Museum for the exhibit opening, First Friday, and some refreshments.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back to our normal daily grind...

We're done with our two big events-- Up the Chisholm Trail and Archeology Day, which were held within two weeks of each other.

This is sort of our quiet time of the year...the time where we try to catch up on things that were put off while we were planning for the two events.

What do I have going on? A lot.

We've got a temporary exhibit that opens in early November featuring early maps of the world, the United States, and Texas. I think it'll be a really nice exhibit. I know I enjoy looking at maps.

I'm working on updating our main exhibit that talks about early Williamson County-- new maps, new labels, new photographs. Dana is pulling together an exhibit for one of the exhibit cases.

The traveling Swedish-Texans exhibit will be done soon...very soon. I've designed exhibit panels, received permission to use photographs from other institutions, and am almost ready to send it all to the printers.

We're still accepting artifacts. And, we're still working to get everything (and there's a lot) into the database-- catalogued, numbered, and photographed.

There's always something to do.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Chuckwagon Cook-off Results

The results are in and we had another successful Up the Chisholm Trail event. This year, 11 chuckwagons participated in the cook-off.

Drum roll, please...and the winners are...

3rd place Beans: Rodgers Ranch
2nd place Beans: M bar S
1st place Beans: Wagon Wheel C

3rd place Biscuits: Bertie Belle
2nd place Biscuits: Bear Creek Ranch
1st place Biscuits: M bar S

3rd place Dessert: Bertie Belle
2nd place Dessert: Bear Creek Ranch
1st place Dessert: Rodgers Ranch

3rd place Meat: Bear Creek Ranch
2nd place Meat: Texas Stampede
1st place Meat: Rodgers Ranch

Best Wagon: Wagon Wheel C

Overall scores are based on 40% wagon scores and 60% food scores.

2nd place Best Overall: Wagon Wheel C
1st place Best Overall: Bear Creek Ranch

Congratulations to the winners, and a big thanks to all the wagons who participated this year. I know that Dove Creek made my morning with their fresh brewed coffee and very tasty breakfast burritos!

Thanks everyone! We hope to see you all again next year.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Up the Chishom Trail!

This weekend is our Up the Chisholm Trail event at San Gabriel Park. We hope that you're planning on joining us Friday evening and all day Saturday, because we've got lots of activities planned.

4-6pm Watch chuckwagons cook authentic desserts

6-9pm Sample delicious desserts, vote on most hospitable chuckwagon, and enjoy a performance by Grady Lee

9am Grady Lee at the gazebo

9am-3pm Check out the authentic chuckwagons

10:30am Evelyn, the Yodeling Cowgirl, at the gazebo

11:30am Stick Horse Rodeo

11:45am Cowboy Poetry Contest Awards

12pm Children's Costume Contest

12:30pm Shirts and Skirts Square Dancers at the gazebo

1:30pm Randy Waller, Cowboy Poet, at the gazebo

1:30pm Chuckwagon food samples available for the public (must by wristband; limited supplies; wristbands go on sale at 9am; $5 each)

2:30pm Evelyn, the Yodeling Cowgirl, at the gazebo

3pm Chuckwagon Cook-off Awards Ceremony at the gazebo

3:30pm Cullin Lane at the gazebo

4pm Charlie Bishop at the gazebo

4:30pm Jim Gough & the Cosmopolitan Cowboys at the gazebo

5pm Trick Roping Show

5:30pm Cattle drive along San Gabriel River

7-10pm Ranch Rodeo* at Sheriffs Posse Rodeo Arena

10:30pm Rick Trevino* live in concert at Sheriffs Posse Rodeo Arena

*Tickets for Ranch Rodeo and Rick Trevino are available at until Friday. Tickets will be available at the event (in San Gabriel Park) on Friday evening and all day Saturday.

For more information visit the Up the Chisholm Trail website or call the Museum at 512-943-1670.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Have you bought tickets, yet?

It's so close! We can feel Up the Chisholm Trail, now. While I'd like to say it's all Up the Chisholm Trail all the time, truth is we've got a museum to run, too.

So, Dana and I are working on collections. I've been working on designing panels for the traveling Swedish Texans exhibit. Mickie's giving a cub scout tour as I write.

But, really, for the most part we are all Chisholm Trail. Getting packets together, sending out sponsor information, gathering supplies, ordering the PA name it, we're getting it done.

That said...Have you purchased your Ranch Rodeo and Rick Trevino concert tickets, yet? They're a very reasonable $15 for adults and $5 for children. You can buy them now on our event website at, or you can buy them the day of the event-- September 27 at San Gabriel Park.

Either way, make sure you get yours before it's too late!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cutest Cowgirl and Best-looking Buckaroo!

That's right...we're holding our first children's Western Costume Contest at the Up the Chisholm Trail event this year. Registration is from 9:00 to 11:30 am at the gazebo in San Gabriel Park.

Judging for the contest is at high noon.

We'll have three age groups for the contest: 1 to 4 years; 5 to 8 years; and 9 to 12 years. Judges will award First, Second, and Third Place ribbons in each age group for Cutest Cowgirl and Best-looking Buckaroo.

I'm excited to see all the cowgirls and cowboys. We hope you'll join us!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I received copies of the petitions from Texas State Library and Archives in the mail last week. They're BOTH undated. So...the mystery remains unsolved...Ah well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Up Next...

We're working on our next exhibit entitled Picturing the Past. During our summer history camps, students were given the chance to write exhibit labels for images from our historic photograph collection. The results are fun, interesting, and unexpected.

Here's a sneak preview. Below is a detail from one of the photographs with the text written by a couple of students.

In this picture you see the circus parading past the courthouse. As the circuses of old, they used horse-drawn carriages to get around. Every year when the circus came, people were crowding around the streets to watch. Some people paid a lot of money to watch. Everyone in the city (almost) comes to watch. Let's go!

The exhibit opens on Saturday, August 30, at 2:00 pm. Stop by!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Our own little History's Mystery

I'm working on updating one of our older exhibits-- new labels, new images, new maps. Instead of just rewriting the old labels, I started to do a bit of research and quickly ran into a small mystery. In our exhibit as well as in THE history book for the county, it says that the citizens of the western portion of Milam County distributed and signed a petition to create a new county. The petition was supposed to have been circulated in February 1848. Then, in March 1848 (a mere month later) the Texas legislature voted and passed the creation of Williamson County out of that portion of Milam County.

So, as any good historian would, I wanted to see the original petitions. I went online to the Texas State Library and Archives website to conduct a search for the documents (the petitions and the original Act to create the county). But, I couldn't find anything. Thinking that I had just not figured out the correct grouping of words to find what I was looking for, I sent an email to the reference staff.

Surprise, surprise, I received an email back that they located two petitions, BUT they're not dated 1848...they're dated 1840. Very interesting. Of course, I've asked to have copies of the petitions so that I can see for myself.

This is a very interesting situation and brings up some questions. How could a group of people whose main complaint about the traveling distance through Milam County get two petitions circulated and signed, delivered to the Legislature, and voted on in a month? I just can't imagine that anything in any government could get done that quickly, especially in the 1840s when it took days to travel anywhere on horseback or wagon. How did we get the information wrong (if it is wrong)? And, if someone knew the date was off, why hasn't that information been passed on? Hmmm.

So, I'm waiting for the copies to see what the real story (or rather, date) is.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Working with Objects

Many people might not realize all the work that goes on behind the scenes in a museum. One of the areas that takes the most time because of the necessary detail that goes into getting it right is working with the objects.

Here's what the main storage area looks like. This is where most of the items (except the larger items like furniture and farm tools, etc.) are housed.

Our museum has only been open for four and a half years and our collection isn't necessarily large, but it's growing day by day. People bring in objects to donate to the museum all the time. And, one of the most important things we do with the collection is cataloguing each object no matter how small. Cataloguing means measuring, describing, photographing, and tagging or physically numbering an item with its own unique number. We do this by hand. Then, all that information has to be added to our collections database, as well as indications of the storage area and shelving unit each item is housed in/on. Here's an example of one item's record in our database.

Our collections intern, Dana, has been working on entering catalogue information into the database and photographing each of the objects in the collection. Luckily, we have a corps of trained volunteers who spend about 4-8 hours every month cataloguing and numbering artifacts-- this helps to cut down on the backlog of artifacts that weren't catalogued as they came in as well as keeping us on schedule with the stuff that still comes in every week. In the first month Dana started, she completed over 115 records-- entering the information into the database and taking photographs. I'm assuming that we've more than doubled that in the past month, since we've also been locating objects already catalogued and entered into the database but for which there is no associated photograph.

There's still a lot to be done, but we're making great progress.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Time for something completely different

It's a first for us. We're trying something new...something exciting...

Background: The last week of July, Mickie's hosting our annual kids' summer history program. This year, it'll be four days. We're calling it Summer History Explorers' Camp. Each day, there will be a new theme/topic with activities, information, lessons, etc.

We were looking for something that would create a tangible outcome to the program. Here's what we came up with.

After every day's theme, the campers will have a chance to look through our photographic collection and write exhibit labels for chosen photographs that relate to the day's topic. Then, on August 16, we'll host an exhibit opening that will display the photographs and labels written by the campers. The exhibit is titled "Picturing the Past." (I'll provide additional information on the photographs if necessary with supplemental labels.)

We're excited by this. It's our first time allowing the public to dictate the story of an exhibit. This "public" will be the campers in the summer program.

I hope you'll join us for the opening-- Saturday, August 16, at 2pm at the Museum.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rick Trevino!

We're hosting our first concert in conjunction with our Up the Chisholm Trail event. This year, Rick Trevino is going to be the main attraction.

Visit his MySpace site at to hear some music.

Tickets will go on sale soon. Visit for more information.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Parades are always fun

The Williamson County Sheriffs Posse hosted a parade today to kick off Rodeo festivities. Not quite as big a crowd attended as at the Red Poppy parade in April, but we had fun nonetheless.

Celina, Mickie, Dana, and Chelsea left the Museum in my hands while they rode in Dale's truck. Rebecca and her friend rounded out the float participants. We used the parade as an opportunity to plug Up the Chisholm Trail Cattle Drive and Chuckwagon Cook-off, which we're actively planning. (Two chuckwagons confirmed, four more verbally confirmed.)

At the beginning of the parade, the Sheriffs Posse had a riderless horse. That was in honor of our good friend Coop Smith who passed away earlier this year. It was really a very nice tribute to Coop!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Even though it's our down time, it's hoppin'

Really, we're getting to where this is the quiet time of the year. It's that time between events and exhibits.

We've installed two exhibits this year...and have taken one of them down. Our next exhibit is slated to open in November. I'll be working on making our Swedish Texans exhibit a traveling exhibit (which I've not done before, so it's an all-around learning experience).

We held Pioneer Day, which saw double last year's attendance. We had way more school tours through the museum and courthouse than last year. But, school's over. Mickie's working on Summer History Explorers' Camp. This will be the first year we're expanding that program to a week (well, really, four days). Mickie's going to a storytellers' workshop on Friday.

Celina's catching us up on paperwork. All of the old attendance and volunteer records that were handwritten, she's entering it ALL into our database. Plus, she's going to a training workshop in Waco next week to get a better handle on our membership/contacts database.

I was recently appointed to the Collections Managers Committee (an affinity group of the Texas Association of Museum) as the Newsletter Editor. I sent out my first quarterly newsletter today. I'm also the Secretary for the Austin Museum Partnership. We don't have a lot of meetings for that organization, but we do have networking happy hours, which everyone enjoys. That group will take up more time as Austin Museum Day gets closer.

This is the perfect time for me to have some quiet time to concentrate on the unsexy elements of museum work...working on the collections (Dana's making great progress on the photography project), designing the traveling exhibit, updating the labels in some of the older exhibits, and working with the webmaster to design and get our NEW webpage up and running.

Next month, the intense planning for Up the Chisholm Trail will be in full swing...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A quite June

We just uninstalled the quilt exhibit. It had been up since mid-March and was quite a draw. People loved looking at the quilts that dated from 1871 to 1998. Dana, Chris and I took the quilts down this morning. They're already back in acid-free boxes with tissue paper and on the shelves in the collections area.

What's next? Well. We've received TWO entries for the chuckwagon cook-off. One of the wagons attended our event last year, Goode Ranch Chuckwagon, and were first place winners in the Bread category. We're so excited they'll be joining us again this year. The second wagon is Rodgers Ranch Chuck Wagon from Bertram. I've heard they placed well at the chuckwagon cook-off in Blanco last year (their event was the same day as ours). But, Rodgers Ranch Chuckwagon has decided to join us this year. Ya-hoo!

New elements at this year's Up the Chisholm Trail Event include a consolidated location at San Gabriel Park, Western demonstrators and exhibitors, a trick riding show, a Ranch Rodeo, and a very special live performance after the cattle drive. As soon as we get the details, we'll let y'all know.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Magnus Gustafsson to speak at the Courthouse

Carl Widen VASA Lodge #743 of Austin in conjunction with the Williamson Museum invites the public to a free open house on Saturday, May 31, at 4:00 pm in the 26th District Courtroom on the second floor of the restored Williamson County Courthouse located at 710 Main Street in Georgetown. Please use the south entrance of the Courthouse access the courthouse for this event.

Magnus Gustafsson of Chalmers University of Technology, Center for Language and Communication of Goteborg, Sweden, is the featured guest speaker. He will present on education in modern Sweden, especially new Swedish legislation regarding language, immigration and other topics of interest. An open house at the Museum, located at 716 S. Austin Ave., immediately follows the presentation. The open house features the exhibit From Småland, Sweden, to Big Land Texas, and provides visitors with the unique opportunity to visit with Magnus Gustafsson and members of Carl Widen VASA to learn more about Swedish Culture.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thank You!

We want to thank Humanities Texas for sponsoring Pioneer Day 2008. This year's event was a success, drawing over 600 people. Thank you!

Art Contest Winners

Results from the Home Sweet Texas Home Art Contest announced at Pioneer Day 2008:

Third Place
Primary (K-2nd grade): Tyler Davis, Burden Elementary
Intermediate (3rd-5th grade): TIE: Katarina Gomez and Lindsey Shultz, Village Elementary
Middle School (6th-8th grade): Jose Morales, Forbes Middle School
High School (9th-12th grade): Jeremy Stefek, Thrall High School

Second Place
Primary (K-2nd grade): Cassidey Weems, Burden Elementary
Intermediate (3rd-5th grade): Karina Calderon, Village Elementary
Middle School (6th-8th grade): Samuel Talbert, Forbes Middle School
High School (9th-12th grade): Lauri Jansky, Thrall High School

First Place

Primary (K-2nd grade): Kaleb Koop, Burden Elementary
Intermediate (3rd-5th grade): Caroline McGahan, Fern Bluff Elementary
Middle School (6th-8th grade): Tristan Snyder, Forbes Middle School
High School (9th-12th grade): Jordan Miller, Thrall High School

Friday, May 9, 2008

This Place Matters

For Historic Preservation Month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is sponsoring a "This Place Matters" campaign. On their website, you can upload photographs of places that matter to you and your community. We've uploaded three: the Up the Chisholm Trail marker, the Williamson County Courthouse, and the Farmers State Bank building (the Museum). Check out our additions at And, celebrate Historic Preservation Month!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Every year in conjunction with Pioneer Day, we hold an art contest. We have four age categories, and we give the students a theme. This year's was Home Sweet Texas Home. We judge on how the creativity and originality. There were some really, really good ones this year.

However, this one caught my eye right off. Unfortunately, it didn't place in the contest. But, I liked it so much, I wanted to put it on the blog. This was drawn by Mackenzy Turner a second grader at Bill Burden Elementary in Liberty Hill. You go, Mackenzy! I love your poster!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 10 is Pioneer Day!

Come celebrate Home Sweet Texas Home with the Williamson Museum, Saturday, May 10, at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd. The event will include hands-on demonstrations of pioneer activities and games, living history presentations, and the winning posters from the Home Sweet Texas Home Poster art contest. A free hot dog lunch will be served at noon, but a pioneer-style lunch cooked on site in Dutch ovens will also be available for $3.00 per person. This event is free of charge and open to the public from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Hands-on & Make & Take Activities:

· Pioneer Crafts: Learn how the pioneers lived, dressed, and worked. Hands-on activities include corn grinding, washing clothes, making cornhusk dolls, and churning butter.

· Pioneer Games: Marbles, buzz-saw, rag ball making, Jacob’s Ladder, tug-of-war and three-legged races are some of the activities visitors can enjoy.

· Wood Carving: Participants will get instruction from Williamson County woodcarvers, learn about wooden toys, and have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on carving activity.

· Living History Presentations: The best way to learn about history is through the stories of those that lived it. Throughout the day, visitors can talk with the San Gabriel Pioneers and the Buffalo Soldiers at their camps.

· Historic Village Tours: Visitors can tour the historic structures on location at the Park including the Palm Mansion, Rice’s Crossing Store and Mather Cabin.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Looking and Searching...

for an intern.

It's that time of year again. I'm looking for an intern to help me with collections and exhibitions. Obviously we were extremely lucky with last year's intern. It was Celina, and we've kept her on with us.

I've posted the position on the Texas Association of Museums website. I've sent it to the heads of departments at Texas Tech (Museum Science), Baylor (Museum Studies), and Texas State (Public History). I'm also passing out the description to people I know, in case they have people to pass it on to, too.

This morning we worked on the exhibit schedule for the next couple of years-- choosing dates, setting budgets, and moving things around. So, for now, we're set.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


That's the sound of time flying.

I don't know where time goes. One day turns into two weeks. Obviously, that means we're pretty busy around here.

We're creating a website for Up the Chisholm Trail. We were thinking about waiting until next year, but decided to just go for it. We'll be putting that on all of our advertising soon. When you get a chance, you should check it out: (I'm hoping it'll be up when you visit the page.)

We're also creating a new Museum website along with getting new email addresses. But, we're not ready to release that address yet. We're getting all the glitches out-- it should be good...very good.

This weekend is the annual Red Poppy Fest in Georgetown. Check out their website for more information. We'll be open late on Saturday. Stop by to see us!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Quiet Day

Today has been one of those great days to catch up...organize files...return phone calls.

The painter came by this morning to finish painting the museum's front door. So, we had the front door open for about 4 hours. I know, I know...temperature and RH control! But, the paint had to dry, so I put a ladder in the open doorway with a big "closed" sign on it.

Now that the exterior paint is done, we can put the metal bars back over the windows. And, we'll get our new exterior sign and LIGHTS! I think the lights on the sign will help with attendance on First Fridays, especially. However, paired with the fact that Mickie's going to be planning activities with the themed Fridays, we may be getting more visitors anyway.

Our newest acquisition came in on Saturday. We picked up a Burroughs adding machine (Comptograph or Comptometer, I need to do more research) from First Texas Bank. Apparently, this machine is from the 1920s, maybe earlier, and was used in this building when it was a bank. We're planning on cleaning it and moving it into the bank vault as part of the exhibit on the history of this building (the Bank).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Safe and Sound

Today, we finally moved the old Belford Lumber Co. safe from its long-time home at the city dump into storage. It's not in the best of condition-- lots of rust damage. But, it's just beautiful. We're hoping to raise enough money to get the safe fully restored. It'd be great to be able to have an exhibit on Belford Lumber Co. in the future.

Here's where the safe sat-- for who knows how long-- under an open air shelter at the dump. (Actually, its location under this shelter was farther back and behind a big wood desk. Someone moved it to the front of the shelter before we came with the moving truck.)

Jim and Byron came by this morning to move it to storage for us.

Once it was on the truck, we moved it through Georgetown to the storage warehouse. Then, they unloaded it.

So, now the safe is in its new (temporary) home. We're so happy to have saved this great piece of history. And, many thanks go to Rachel at the city for making sure we got the safe.

...I wonder what's inside....That's our next step.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Quilt Fun!

Yesterday we installed the quilt exhibit.

This is what the museum looked like before.

Chris and I installing the quilts.

And here's what it looks like now.

Author Marcia Kaylakie gave a special presentation on the care, conservation, and documentation of quilts.

We had a nice crowd, and it was a great presentation. We were so happy to have Marcia with us.

Next week, I'll be out of the office-- the Texas Association of Museums annual conference is in Galveston. Oh, I love Galveston!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Making Collections Available

I like learning about ways that Museums make their collections available to the public. Some museums only allow researchers (and members of the general public) access to the collection by making appointments with the Curator. That's fine. That's good. We should allow people access to the collection, especially because we are (at least according to our collections policy) holding the collection in the public's trust.

But, some museums go beyond this making available their entire collections database online. I love this. People can browse through the museum's collection-- they can see all those things that we can't fit on exhibit.

Today, I was reading one of my normal "museum" blogs and I ran across something that I hadn't seen before. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston makes images of their artwork available for use as cell phone wallpapers. Brilliant!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I like pretty things.

And, really, who doesn't?

We're gearing up for our quilt exhibit. I chose six quilts from our collection-- ranging from 1871 to 1998. We've got a crazy quilt, a commemorative quilt, and some others...can you feel the anticipation?

Marcia Kaylakie, author of Texas Quilts and Quilters: A Lone Star Legacy, is going to give a special presentation on the care, conservation and documentation of quilts. She's also going to set up a table at the Museum after the presentation (held in the District Courtroom of the newly-renovated Courthouse) for signing copies of her book. The presentation and the opening of the exhibit are on March 22 @ 10:30 am.

The week after the opening, Mickie, Chris and I will be heading to Galveston for the Texas Assn. of Museums annual meeting. I love Galveston. Love. I love Guido's. I love the beach. I love the Mosquito Cafe (oh that watermelon gazpacho was to die for). That Mexican restaurant in the historic house...the Tremont...the oyster bar. Serious love going on here. I can't wait for Galveston.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Something New...Something Different

I'm trying something a little different...I hate to say revolutionary, because I'll bet others are doing it...somewhere. But, I'm redefining our Acquisitions Committee. I'm building a group of professionals from around the county (our people...our public) to serve on the committee that initially discusses and approves (or doesn't) donations to the Museums various collections. (All final decisions are made by the Board of Directors.)

I've done a little bit of asking around, and most institutions' acquisitions committees seem to be comprised of staff and/or board members. Ours will be a little different. Oh, we'll still have staff-- the director and the curator serve on the committee. But, we're branching beyond this. I've contacted directors of libraries who have local history rooms and I've contacted the head of special collections at the local university.

I think that this will be a dynamic group of people who know collections and know local history. We already work together on an informal basis. When certain items come through our door and I know they would be better served at another institution, I check with them (and, of course, the donor). We're all here for the same purpose-- to collect, preserve, and present our history. We're all here to serve and be a resource to the public. Let's work together in a true and open way. Let's really work to provide what the public needs.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it all works out the way I image it. Then, again, I'm horribly idealistic...and optimistic.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Busy Days

This week seems to be busier than last. Although, I must admit that it feels that way almost every week. Yesterday, we held another round of cataloguing. The four volunteers and I worked from 1 to 4 pm. We're working our way through the World War I collection of Sgt. Charles Beaver. Personally, I've spent the last two work sessions cataloguing items from his housewife (sewing kit)...buttons and safety pins mostly.

Last Saturday, we had our special presentation entitled Early Black Schools in Georgetown 1868-1966. Dr. Farney, who had written her dissertation on the history of schools in Georgetown, found through her research that Black schools in the community existed about 25 years earlier than had been thought. It was a very interesting presentation. I know that I've heard a number of people talk about how much they enjoyed it.

So, what are we doing this week that's so busy? Today, I meeting with our webmaster-- we're in the process of revamping our website. This afternoon I've got a meeting with an historian from Austin who is doing research on slave cabins in Williamson County. I've gathered together some information, but we also have images of two different slave cabins in our collection. I'm going to share those with her. Tonight is also our first meeting for the upcoming Chuckwagon Cook-off. Mickie is going to be at the Sun City Non-profit Fair most of tomorrow. Plus, tomorrow night is the board meeting. Then, some history students from Southwestern are coming by on Friday morning to talk about the Dan Moody/KKK trial. I think that they're going to do a class project on the trial. I've got about 13 things on my to-do list. I'd better get-to crackin.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Planning ahead

It's that time again. Time to start planning for our biggest event of the year. Yep. I'm talking about the Up the Chisholm Trail Cattle Drive and Chuckwagon Cook-off. It's held on the last weekend of September (26 & 27). This year, it's the third year for the Cattle Drive and the second year for the Chuckwagon Cook-off.

Staff started meeting last week...going over budgets, plans, and the cattle drive route. Last year, we drove the cattle 2.5 miles from San Gabriel Park to downtown Georgetown. This year, because of liability and logistics, we're consolidating the entire event at San Gabriel Park. We'll have the chuckwagons, the longhorns, demostrators, live music, and much more. The entire event last year drew over 8000 people. Not too shabby for a museum with a staff of 3.5.
Next week will be the first meeting for the Chuckwagon Committee. We start planning this early so that we can get funding, get wagons (we're aiming for 15! this year), and get everything we need. Last year (our first year for the chuckwagon competition) everything went so, so smoothly that you'd think we'd been old pros. It was such as fabulous event, and I'm not just saying that because I was a part of it. I'd never been to a chuckwagon competition, and I must say that it is just a wonderful thing to behold. The wagons are judged on their authenticity, not to mention their food.
On a completely different note, super-intern Celina has returned to the museum as our new Museum Assistant (AKA administrative assistant). Staff and volunteers are so happy and excited to have her back with us. Yea!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Unwanted Objects

This article in yesterday's Austin American Statesman brings up a good discussion point.

What do Museums do with the objects they no longer want in their collections?

Most museums have a document that is called a Collections Management Policy. We have one at WCHM. One of the topics discussed in our Collections Management Policy is how we go about deaccessioning objects (or removing them from our permanent collection).

I wanted to share that portion of our policy with you, since it is a public document, and ethically and professionally, we're required to treat our collections in certain ways.

From our policy:

An object may be deaccessioned from the permanent collection for any of the following reasons:

  • The object is outside of, or no longer relevant to, the Museum’s stated purpose and its acquisitions policy;
  • The object lacks physical integrity (incomplete, broken, or in poor and unsalvageable condition);
  • The item has failed to retain its authenticity;
  • The item has been lost or stolen and remains lost for longer than two years;
  • The Museum is unable to properly care for and preserve the object;
  • The object has deteriorated to the degree that it cannot be used for exhibit or research purposes;
  • There exists a more appropriate repository for the material;
  • The item is a duplicate or reproduction; the Museum’s collection contains other objects of the same type that are sufficient or better suited to the Museum’s needs; and/or
  • The object is determined through documentation research to fall under items protected under NAGPRA, Antiquities Code of Texas, ARPA, or other relevant acts or treaties, or is determined to be stolen.


The Museum Curator will make recommendations for object deaccessioning when one or more of the deaccession criteria are met. Upon approval by the Board, the Museum Curator will make every effort for immediate disposal. Upon deaccessioning, a full written report, with photographs, will become part of the Museum’s permanent records. A complete and open file will be maintained by the Museum on all deaccessioned materials.


Objects approved for deaccessioning will be disposed of in one of the following manners:

· Transferred to the Museum’s education or research collection;

· Sold at public auction or sale;

· Exchanged with organizations, institutions, or other relevant sources for objects, library or archival material needed in the Museum’s collections;

· Transferred to another museum or public educational institution; or

· Destroyed.

The Museum Curator will first look for similar institutions that can benefit from deaccessioned materials. In transferring these materials, preference will be given to retaining in the community, state, or nation material that is part of its respective artistic, historical, cultural, technological, or scientific heritage.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quilts, Schools, and Education

We had our first Education Committee meeting of the year last night-- some old faces, some new. Our main goal at this point is to plan (and pull off) a successful Pioneer Day, which will be held on May 10 at Old Settlers' Park in Round Rock. An exciting addition this year: San Gabriel Pioneers will make camp and prepare food in dutch ovens. Yum! They prepared food for the volunteers last year, and I'm telling you-- you DON'T want to miss it!

Saturday is our monthly Hands-On History activity. This month's activity is learning about significant African Americans from Williamson County and creating commemorative postage stamps in their honor. The activity comes the week before our special presentation entitled, "Early Black Schools in Georgetown 1868-1966." Dr. Marsha Farney wrote her dissertation on the history of schools in Georgetown, and this topic comes from that work. The presentation is Saturday, February 23 @ 2:00 pm in the Courthouse.

I'm planning our next temporary exhibit. We're going to exhibit 4-6 quilts from the Museum's collection. The fun part will be how they're displayed-- we're going to suspend them from the ceiling, which means my favorite...scaffolding. With the exhibit, we'll be hosting a special presentation/lecture by author Marcia Kaylakie whose new book is Quilts: Storytelling One Stitch at a Time. We're very excited about this event.

I hosted a collections volunteer training session on Tuesday-- we did a refresher for those who hadn't been in a while and taught one new volunteer the cataloguing ropes. I like the training for collections, because cataloguing is one of my favorite things to do. We had 5 volunteers on Tuesday afternoon, and we catalogued 35 objects. I was so excited that we did so many in that one day. Go Collections Volunteers! You Rock!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


It's never the same every day. That's one of the great things about working in a museum. There's drop-ins, there's meetings, there's planning for programs and exhibits. We're cataloguing artifacts. We're taking new donations. Volunteers are going through refresher training (or, for some, new training).

I attended the Austin Museum Partnership meeting yesterday. I've been going to the AMP meetings, off and on, for over 7 years. For the past two, I've been the organization's secretary. While I don't work in an Austin museum, I find organizations such as AMP a great place to network, as well as make sure that the resources I love are promoted. If you're interested in seeing museums in Austin, visit the AMP website at And, if you're that close (in Austin), come see us!

The Hutto newspaper was here today taking photographs for an article on the Swedish exhibit. We're getting lots of great press and attendance for the exhibit, which will run for a year at the Museum. It's very exciting to see the county so interested in an exhibit!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Work Is Never Done

We hosted the Donor Sneak Peek event at the Museum on Friday night. I think it was a great success...we had over 80 people in attendance, which is a lot for our limited space. On Saturday, we had the special presentation (two speakers) at the courthouse in the District Courtroom. That event was also a great success, with over 180 people attending. Big thanks to IKEA, who donated all the food and refreshments for both special events. Also, thanks to DiVine Wine who donated wine for the Friday night event.

For our part, there's still much to be done. We're registering for the upcoming TAM conference in Galveston (one of my favorite places). Finishing some last minute additions to the exhibit. Installing the new flat screen TV. And, of course, starting to plan for the next exhibit, which opens in March (quilts from our collection). We also are starting volunteer training tomorrow afternoon. And as I write this, Mickie is out giving her first presentation using the new Swedish Immigration Trunk, developed in conjunction with the exhibit. Yea!