Rye history alive? Where? How? Prove it!
All welcome to 'treasure trove' with reopening of Town Museum on April 21
Alex Herlihy, Director, Town Museum
What did Rye and its people look like over a century ago? What kinds of colorful characters inhabited our town? What were some of the great political battles? Are there any dark secrets to be unearthed? How did people survive? Did people really live deep in the woods and make hard cider? What did people do for entertainment? (For one thing they saw live theater at the Town Hall with titles such as: “Freezing a Mother in Law!”) How would you know if you are interested in this town? Where does interest begin?
Come to the Town Museum and find out.
Situated beside the Public Library since 2002, one would think, based on scanty attendance, that the Town Museum was some kind of uninviting hole in the wall instead of a treasure trove of Rye culture, past and present. Unlike libraries, museums and the public have a kind of fickle relationship. Maybe it's an old stereotype about being seized upon entering the museum and having to suffer a tedious formal tour. We promise to only say: “Welcome; please sign the guest book.” If you knew it was like the library and you could come in and pursue what interested you… would that intrigue you? OK – it's official –the Town Museum is like the Library; in fact, we work very closely with them.
An advertising executive told us once that we had a great place – we just needed to get the public’s attention. Another man about town told us we had to make it “sexy.” We know we are competing for your attention and time with other places, but Rye is YOUR PLACE. Now, we would like to invite you, the Museum’s public, to come visit. Come and visit us and figure out how to get the rest of the town to follow you! For those who have visited for the first time, with apologies, (“I’ve been meaning to stop by for the last five years”) they were richly rewarded with:
- historic photos of: Town Center, resort era of grand hotels, many albums of other photos including Old Houses of Rye and an evolving Illustrated History of Rye that may turn into an updated town history.
- Artifacts: a section of the trans-Atlantic cable that came ashore in Rye in 1874, a magnificent wrought iron gate from a Rye graveyard, ominous looking medical instruments from the Parsons family of Rye doctors, eccentric wood carvings of semi-hermit Jess Walker and much more
- Volumes: of anecdotes, news clippings, town documents, personal histories and accounts of events, maps, etc.
- Gift Shop, school programs, oral histories, do it yourself Rye History slide show, etc.
- Opportunities abound for you to: plan the next exhibit on land use history, update the town history, plan a public program, staff the museum on Saturdays, museum maintenance, plan school programs, whatever interests you.
- Our collection is being cataloged and digitized and the website will be updated .
Is history “one damn thing after another” or is it the rich texture of our lives and those who came before us? And who cares about the past? How much time do you dwell in the present, the future and the past? And what is the value of spending any time in the past? It's over isn’t it? Or is it? Does it have a way of sneaking up and biting us because we have been ignoring it?
“I am not drawn to the museum by the above list! You will have to do better!”
OK! Is there any imagination left out there?! Jessie Herlihy studied the old 1905 Parson’s History of Rye and wrote 13 poems about events in the early history of the town. We can do something equally imaginative! Real people have been living here for a long time and their lives have been filled with Greek tragedy just as tragic as the…Greeks!. And we should remember that those Greeks weren’t always bearing gifts and …and falling over their inflated egos…or defeating superior foes…or running from Marathon …or killing family members…or seeking refuge behind wooden walls….and….no…most of their lives, like ours, were filled with rather tedious routine occasionally interrupted by moments of sheer delight and ecstasy or terror, not unlike ours and maybe you can find some of those stories in the museum in a photo or a story or an artifact or a conversation or…?
Hey – it might be true that Scott and Zelda did stay at the Farragut in the 1920’s, and maybe he did write some of the Great Gatsby here; and even if he didn’t, so what? It's conceivable that he did and that’s enough; History is not just about documenting events, it's also about good fiction, and what could be a better path to the truth than good fiction? And what could be a better inspiration for such fiction than all those lives that reside at the RYE TOWN MUSEUM. We don’t have to make history come alive; it is breathing quite well – we just have to animate it!
The little white cape beside the library is sad; it feels mostly ignored cause everyone goes to visit its big sister next door; Why won’t anyone visit me??? I’m not the poor relation!
I’ve got good stuff! Yeah! If you don’t visit it's your loss! And we will all be the poorer for it!
Saturday April 21st – opening day – 10 AM – CARPE CAPE
SEIZE THE WHITE CAPE!
Museum Open: Saturdays 10AM - 2 PM starting April 21 and running through October 27
Museum Open by request anytime: call 964-9079 (eve. only); email@example.com
Website – go to Rye, NH and scroll down to “Rye Historical Society”
Copyright © Rye Reflections 2007. All rights reserved.