Historical Society changing name to Museum of Darien
In the spring, the Darien Historical Society plans to reintroduce itself as the Museum of Darien.
According to Maggie McIntire, Executive Director of the museum, this new name more accurately reflects the museum’s vital role in the community, which is to celebrate the town’s history, care for its treasures and educate citizens about Darien’s proud past.
Last year, alone, staff and volunteers welcomed 700 students, hosted over 3,000 visitors and held five major exhibitions. In addition, the museum conducted outreach programs throughout Fairfield County, provided meeting space to town non-profits, and enthusiastically contributed to planning for the town’s 2020 Bicentennial celebrations. This year, the museum was also the happy recipient of a 14-foot WPA mural, a gift from Hindley Elementary School, which the Society plans to have restored.
Throughout it all, this organization dedicated an estimated 4,000 hours to fielding research requests, which reached us through visits, telephone calls and emails.
This museum, with its small, dedicated staff and knowledgeable volunteer base, operates very much like a school, a library and a town information office, all rolled into one.
Recently, this organization has taken some giant leaps forward to improve its facility and expand its offerings. Last year, in addition to the town’s generous grant, the museum won grants from both The Darien Foundation and The Horizon Foundation. It has also been awarded a state Good to Great grant to install an outdoor sculpture of a Whaleboat Man, a larger-than-life figure that they’re are positioning to become the town’s Heritage Symbol.
This installation, with the help of the 24-foot whaleboat Middlesex (to be used as a traveling, teaching tool), will educate the wider region about this area’s Revolutionary Whaleboat Wars and its forgotten heroes.
For the past three years, the town has generously awarded the museum an annual grant of $10,000 to assist with offsetting expenses for the storage and preservation of the town’s historical records and archival materials.
While the Board of Directors is grateful to the town for this support and assistance, it respectfully requests that the town consider the multi-faceted role of this organization, which is akin to a library branch, and increase the scope of the town grant in order to offset expenses (and help them improve) assisting the public through research, education and outreach.