Terry Konkle – President
The new museum project has been a demanding yet rewarding one for our Rockford Area Historical Society. We were told many things when we started, and I thought readers might be interested in what some of those things were and whether they were pertinent or not.
Regarding fundraising, we were advised not to let personal feelings get in the way. We were told “If someone turns you down or does not donate what you hope they will, try not to be aggravated or hold a grudge. “ This was good advice, and we tried to be positive in asking for and accepting donations. Remember that your cause is not everyone’s cause and that people have a legitimate right to do what they want with their finances and time.
“Be ready for skepticism” someone said. There will be those who will wonder if the new museum project can raise enough funds to make it work. Others will be concerned that once the new museum is ready that funds will not be available to run it. We did meet with people who had worries about whether our project could be completed and then perpetuated. Knowing that we had to deal with those concerns helped us to make solid decisions to alleviate those worries.
Our museum consultant said “When people see that the new museum will be a reality, they will come forth with many artifacts to donate.” This statement has been very true. Many have contacted us to offer their pieces of history for our museum. This is great!
We knew that we would be asked many questions like: Why do you need a new building? Why not renovate your present location? Why have a new museum when you can’t keep your present one open on a regular basis? What will happen to my donation if you do not raise enough money? Why should the Rockford Area Historical Society get an opportunity to move to the vacated courthouse building?
These were all good questions, but we had good answers, and we worked hard to get our responses out to those with inquiries. Perhaps the most important question was “Will the people, businesses and organizations of the Rockford area and beyond support the project through donations and pledges?”
Many of us who were pushing for a new museum had been Rockford residents for a long time. We are “older folks” who still feel young, and we have seen what our community can do if they believe in something. Fortunately, we also knew many people whom we could talk with to get advice and ask for help. The support was there! People cared about preserving our history and displaying it in a building that accentuates community pride and caring.
We have now reached the point where the main question is “When will the new museum be open?” Some displays are built and ready to be moved in to their location, but not everything is ready. We have completed some unexpected bathroom tile and fixture repairs, so the restrooms are ready for use. Some moving in has started and more will happen this week. I will keep readers informed as to dates. Also, please feel free to contact me (616-866-0530) with, comments, concerns and questions.
Finally, as our project continues toward completion, the local and world wide Rockford community should be proud of their positive actions in making the world a better place!