By Terry Rogers
Milford Museum hopes to begin the process of expanding the museum, adding on a conference room and additional exhibit space to display their growing collection of Milford memorabilia. A plan for the expansion is on display in the museum.
“We have outgrown our current space,” Claudia Leister, Executive Director, said. “We have never had a meeting room and we definitely need one for public programming and exhibition. We also need ADA accessible restroom facilities and additional wall space to exhibit our growing collection of art work.” Ms. Leister said that the expansion would remove the current bathrooms, which are small, cramped and unable to be retrofitted for handicapped visitors.
The plans call for a room to extend from the north side of the current museum into the grassy area between the museum and the City of Milford Customer Service building. Ms. Leister said that the statue of General Alfred Torbert standing on one corner of the museum would not need to be moved in order to accommodate the new addition.
“The first estimate we received for the expansion was $600,000 for the basement, which would provide additional storage, and the first floor,” Ms. Leister said. “The cost is high due to a requirement that we pay state wage scale costs.” The cost of the plans, provided by Davis, Bowen and Friedel, were created with a grant from Representative Harvey Kenton. Ms. Leister said that the plans need some “tweeking” as there will not be office space in the new section which will allow the restrooms to swing to the back wall.
Ms. Leister said that there will be public fundraising and that they will be seeking grant funding to cover the cost of the expansion. She said that before they begin the project, the commissioners want to have commitments for at least half of the funds, so it may be as much as three years before the project begins. There is the possibility that Downtown Development District funds could assist in the funding of the project, but that has not been researched at the present time.
The Milford Museum was established in 1983 in the original Milford Post Office building. The building is owned by the State of Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs. State historic restoration money was used to build a new handicapped access ramp, resurface the parking lot, fix roof leaks as well as upgrade security and fire systems. It is unknown how much, if any, the state would contribute to expand the museum.
The mission of the museum is to promote the history of Milford, her surrounding communities and general Delaware history through exhibits and special programs. Permanent exhibits include shipbuilding, historic doll collections, a collection of Victorian silverware, Delaware ladybugs and early Milford ladybugs. The most recent exhibit is “Thank You for Your Service,” designed to recognize all Milfordians who served in the military from the Revolutionary War to the present.
Anyone who is interested in working on the expansion project in a fundraising capacity or who wishes to donate to the expansion, can contact the museum at 424-1080.