Claudia Leister, Executive Director of the Milford Museum, presented an annual report to Milford City Council at their regular meeting on March 22. City Council requires all non-profit organizations who receive funding from the city to present an annual report on their activities throughout the year.
“First, I want to thank Mark Whitfield and the city for allowing the museum to put a storage shed inside the fence under the water tower,” Leister said. “Our basement is very small and that is the only place we have for storage. This allowed us to move some things, like exhibit supplies, to the shed and open up some space. Because our building is owned by the state, we get assistance from the museum team. They added an interior wall in the basement and provided us with new storage shelving. We have also upgraded lighting down there so it is much easier to locate items.”
Over the past year, Leister recreated a “Greenway Walking Tour Booklet” and the booklet was printed with funds from the Vineyard Shipyard project. This booklet encourages people to walk downtown and provides them with facts about some of the historic buildings they may encounter as they walk. A new exhibit “Then and Now,” is receiving significant attention as well.
“This exhibit began when I found an old permanent wave machine and thought it would be fun to have on display,” Leister said. “We have some old typewriters and vacuums on display as well. Kids finding it fascinating to see the old things. They often don’t understand why we say “dial the telephone” as many have never seen a phone that has a dial.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of the museum for several months in 2020 and this had an impact not only on visitation but fund raising as well.
“We normally have over 3,000 visitors each year but this year it was only around 1,000,” Leister said. “This does increase our income due to lack of sales of videos and books. The only event we were able to hold was our Ghost Walk since people could be outside with masks. We took tours through Milford and told spooky stories. That was a big success and we hope to do it again this year.”
A Kentucky Derby party in partnership with Benvenuto is in the process of planning and Leister was hopeful the museum could hold Hippiefest again in August.
“That was the biggest thing we did two years ago, and it was a huge success,” Leister said. “We held it in the backyard of the Causey Mansion with over 300 people in attendance. There was a lot of tye-die at that event.”
City Manager Mark Whitfield asked Leister if it was possible to quantify how the pandemic impacted fund raising for the museum. Leister stated that she would get the information and provide it to Whitfield at a later date, explaining that a new treasurer had just come on board after the previous treasurer moved his home and business out of Milford. Councilman Jason James stated that he was glad to see that the museum was planning events for the upcoming year and expressed hope that they would be successful with the continuing pandemic.
“More people are coming to Milford and are looking for things that say open,” Leister said. “For so many new people moving into the city, we are one of the first stops for them. They want to learn more about the town or get information about a historic home they may be considering. With so many things still closed or on limited hours, we provide people with something to do in downtown Milford where they can learn more about Milford’s past.”