Unveilings and openings of museum galleries and exhibits are always special. There is so much effort that largely goes unseen in bringing these projects to fruition. It often takes years of planning, writing, collecting, and raising the necessary funds to complete the project. The transition between creation and public presentation is a true watershed moment that calls for a great amount of celebration.
These celebratory events are always filled with gratitude. We are thankful for those who support our mission to bring knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of living things and their environments to the general public. This was true when we unveiled our renovated lobby area in October.
The Anniston Museum of Natural History’s empty lobby was an opportunity to reach out to museum guests. We’ve tapped into our ‘Explore Your World’ mantra in its design, challenging our guests to experience the varied environments in our state as well as those around the globe that our collections encompass.
There is a long and historical list of people and organizations to thank for where we are today. The first ‘yes’ began in Pennsylvania in 1929 — that is when H. Severn Regar moved his business and amazing collection to Anniston. All he asked was that Anniston pay the one-time shipping costs and provide space for exhibiting the collection. The leaders and citizens of Anniston, showing great vision and commitment, said – YES, and created an add-on to the Carnegie Library.
Later, when Museum Board Chairman John B. Lagarde offered his magnificent collection of African mounts to the museum, Anniston’s leaders and citizens again said – YES. This structure was built and the name changed to Anniston Museum of Natural History.
Community support bolstered the operations of the new museum. The Museum League formed to promote membership in and grow our base of support through several fundraising and awareness projects. The Anniston Museum Endowment Corporation formed to provide long term operational support for the museum.
In the early days at this location, these volunteers and supporters held numerous fundraisers in vast empty halls – working to complete exhibits. Those halls are no longer empty. They now feature world-class collections in a world-class museum. It is a collection and museum any city of any size would welcome – and this is ours and stands as a monument to all those times
when Anniston said YES.
The Anniston Museum Endowment Corporation and the Museum League – both believed in this project – stepped up – they said –YES – and generously gave funding for fabrication.
Museum Advisory Board members, led by Chairman Robert Houston – thank you for saying – YES – and lending your advice and guidance for continued growth.
I would be remiss if I did not also thank architect Bill Whittaker for pulling the concept together — designer Levi Raven and Southern Customs Exhibits for breathing life into that concept – to Bradshaw and Pitts for the structural renovations to accommodate that concept and design – and the City of Anniston public works department for the extensive electrical renovations required.
All of you continued the tradition of saying – YES – and in so doing, lives will be positively impacted for years to come.