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Monday, May 5, 2008

History, meet New Haven. New Haven, meet history

Historical society museum to expand with $65G grant

By Eliza Hallabeck
Special to the Register

The New Haven Museum and Historical Society will expand exhibits and add new ones, thanks to a $65,000 grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council.
William Hosley, executive director of the New Haven Museum and Historical Society, said the money will go primarily toward expanding current initiatives and new special projects.
Specifically, Hosley said, the money will help promote more interactive space for visitors, and it will be used to improve public access to the museum’s archive of more than 100,000 images of New Haven life.
The Heritage Revitalization Grant is a competitive type of grant, which the New Haven Museum and Historical Society applied for this past winter, Hosley said.
The money for the grant came from the Connecticut Humanities Council’s $1.4 million Heritage Revitalization Fund; it was underwritten by an appropriation from the General Assembly.
Hosley said the money is equivalent to 20 percent of the normal budget for the society, which is on Whitney Avenue.
“This grant recognizes that our very existence rests on radically rethinking our role in the community and figuring out new ways to make our wonderful collection a better resource for people in our city,” Hosley said.
The New Haven Museum and Historical Society has housed a collection of Connecticut furniture, documents, archives, artwork and other objects for nearly 150 years. It features exhibitions on “New Haven Illustrated,” “Amistad,” “New Haven and the Sea,” and local art. It also offers education programs.
Hosley said money from the grant will allow the New Haven Museum and Historical Society to focus on two new projects, which will get people involved with the museum.
According to Hosley, one project is called “Project Pipeline;” it will focus on getting members of the community, students, researchers or anybody else involved in learning more about local history.
“We think it is important to get people involved and focused on local area history,” said Hosley.
The second project, Hosley said, is called “Project Iceberg,” and it is intended to keep the New Haven Museum and Historical Society’s collection better displayed and in a better rotation.
“Project Iceberg is about flipping the balance of what’s in storage and what’s out,” Hosley said.
Bruce Fraser, executive director of the Connecticut Humanities Council, said the New Haven Museum and Historical Society joins other cultural organizations from across the state to benefit from the Heritage Revitalization Fund.
“It is essential that Connecticut’s heritage museums respond to their visitors’ expectations in order to remain significant cultural resources in their communities,” Fraser said. “It’s a challenge that the New Haven Museum is addressing with imagination, and we’re delighted to support their efforts.”
Eliza Hallabeck is a New Haven Register intern.

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