On May 28, the Saint Albans Museum (SAM) will reach out to area residents – as well as supporters throughout Vermont and beyond – with its annual membership drive. “Members are at the heart of our mission to preserve local history,” said SAM’s Executive Director, Alex Lehning. “Their commitment through both financial support and offering their time and talents as volunteers allow us to continue to serve our community, season after season.” Each year, SAM welcomes over 3,000 visitors, area residents, and local students for exhibit tours, presentations, public meetings, concerts, and special events – an achievement possible only through the efforts of members and volunteers.
A non-profit organization, SAM relies on four sources to provide sufficient annual operating funds: membership dues, budget allocations from the City & Town, an end-of-year appeal, and fundraising events. Together, they enable the Museum to care for and grow its collections and archives, to develop new or update existing displays, to host popular programs and lectures, and to maintain its aging building – a former school constructed in 186.
As the largest museum in Franklin and Grand Isle counties, SAM values its role as a leader and partner in community activities. It is governed by a Board of Trustees, and operates with one-full time staff member and a team of approximately 35 volunteers. Recent exhibit updates focused on a variety of stories relevant to the history of St. Albans, Franklin County, and northwestern Vermont:
- Farming Franklin County features the stories of maple and dairy producers, as well as those of businesses and community groups connected to our agricultural heritage. “What makes this exhibit unique is that It was community-curated,” said Lehning. “Over 60 local individuals, farming families, and groups contributed artifacts, photographs, and funding to allow us to tell this story.”
- The Military Room highlights local involvement in major conflicts dating to the Civil War. Recent updates profile past and current residents (some who attended classes in the building when it operated as a school) that served in WWI, as well as servicemembers from St. Albans who were part of the famous 101st Airborne Division during WWII.
- Other renovations include the award-winning Women’s Realm, which is focused on women’s history, as well as displays celebrating local minor league baseball and the centennial anniversaries of the American Legion and the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery.
In addition to its work with the permanent collection, SAM connects with the community in other ways. The Museum hosts events that are family-friendly and partners with other organizations for special events. It opens for a trick-or-treat event each October, and participates in Last Night, the Festival of Trees, OLLI, and the Northwestern Vermont Farmer’s Market Vintage & Antique Day. A series of presentations on a variety of topics, of both historical and general interest, are scheduled throughout the year. Visitors can also tour special exhibits on loan to SAM for a limited engagement. Past examples included “Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America.”
Memberships are available at a variety of levels for individuals and families, and include complimentary admission, a newsletter subscription, and discounts in the Museum gift shop/for Bliss Room rentals. To join, renew, or learn more about becoming a member, please call (802) 527-7933 or visit SAM online at www.stamuseum.org.