Museum needs community support

The need for a first class museum for Newberry County has been widely recognized for a long time. The good news is that a solution is now within our grasp. The Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) which is up for renewal in November will provide money for the museum as well as many other projects that will benefit all of the people of Newberry County.

The current conditions for maintaining and exhibiting our historical documents and artifacts in the Coppock House and Gauntt House are unsatisfactory due to lack of display and storage space, insufficient lighting, security, fire safety, climate and pest control, and lack of parking.

Accordingly, many historical artifacts that could be donated and preserved for posterity are either being withheld by their current custodians or have gone to other museums resulting in a significant loss for our community. Of the seven counties surrounding Newberry, we are the only county that doesn’t have its own fully functional museum open on a regular basis with a professional staff providing educational programs for its citizens.

The Newberry County Historical and Museum Society and Newberry College have partnered to co-locate their collections, artifacts, and documents in one permanent location under the care and direction of trained museum professionals in the new Newberry Museum. The site for the new museum is the historical Taylor Building (formerly the old Post Office/old Library) on Friend Street in Newberry.

Far from the “collection of old stuff” museums of the past, the Newberry Museum will take advantage of technology to provide relevant, interactive exhibits appealing to all ages, digitized photo and genealogical data bases, and educational opportunities for student research projects and internships.

There will be separate exhibit spaces showcasing the most significant historical aspects of each of the municipalities in the county. Most importantly, the new museum will enable us to bring out aspects of the rich history of our diverse culture that have been left out in the past, particularly contributions of our African American community.

The museum itself will also attract heritage tourism to Newberry County generating revenue for local businesses throughout the region. Visitors to the Museum will be encouraged through our exhibits and interactive displays to visit historic sites throughout the county, and will serve as a draw for recruiting new businesses, industry, and new residents.

The Taylor Building is already owned by the county and ready for renovation. Architectural plans for the museum are currently being finalized. Funding for the museum’s staffing and operational budget has been designated through a combination of City and County of Newberry and Newberry College sources.

Finally, the museum is on the list of approved CPST projects for the upcoming ballot in November along with many others that will benefit all the citizens of Newberry County. Due to the foresight, diligence, and hard work of countless people the Newberry Museum is now only one step away from becoming a reality. Vote “Yes” for the CPST on November 8.

John Favors

Vice President

Newberry Historical and Museum Society

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