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T.M. Fasano
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Old with the new

MORGAN JONES/Windsor Now!

The old artifacts and photos still play a large part at the Windsor Museum at Boardwalk Park and Art & Heritage Center in downtown Windsor, but the museum staff is adding some new things as the season opens for the summer.

From an Open Door/Open House program the first Saturday of every month to a newly restored vintage, early 20th-century caboose, there will be many new things for people to see this year. The museum officially opened to visitors Friday.

“The biggest thing out at Boardwalk Park is that Monte Caskey, our museum tech, has been working for about a year in restoring the caboose,” museum curator Katie Bates said. “It’s very near completion. The interior will be open to the public this summer, and that’s very exciting for us. He’s restoring its look as close to its original appearance as possible.”

The caboose sits behind the 1882 depot at Boardwalk Park.

“The railroad really helped build Windsor. It brought traffic through here. It allowed them to ship sugar beets and other agriculture,” Bates said.

The Open Door/Open House program the first Saturday of every month is a new style of seeing the museum (1882 depot, school house, German from Russia beet shanty, prayer-meeting house), said Bates, who added that everything at the museum is interpreted to right around 1900.

“The idea behind that program is to allow people to see the museum at their own pace, and to explore it based on their own interest and in whatever order they want,” Bates said. “We’re going to have all the buildings unlocked. Typically, you go into the depot and get a docent-guided tour through buildings. It’s about 45 minutes and it offers one way to get the history, but this way people can wander in and read. We have interpretative panels in each of the buildings. They can look at the objects. We have quite a few interactive, hands-on pieces. They can spend 10 minutes in there, they can spend two hours. It allows more flexibility.”

Bates said the pilot program might become something that the museum will put in full-time next year, with the doors unlocked during museum hours and people can take the guided tour or walk around at their own pace.

Every first Saturday of the month will have a theme beginning with Windsor’s past agriculture from 1-3 p.m. May 5. Agricultural implements, tools and hitching demonstrations with real draft horses will be included along with refreshments for a $1 donation.

“One of our major goals is that museums are often seen as very static institutions, and in reality they’re quite dynamic,” Bates said. “That’s really what we’re trying to display. You have Windsor’s history out at Boardwalk Park, and what it would be like to have been in Windsor in the early 20th century,” Bates said. “And then we are adding the programming elements with these Open Door/Open House tours because it allows us to get out the information in a lot of different ways ” hear it, see it, touch it, smell it ” to digest that information.”

The museum staff is also connecting to the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District’s students by putting on programs for second- fourth, eighth- and 10th-graders to provide them a variety of experiences with different tours determined by the age group.

Bates also pointed out that there are the temporary and traveling art exhibits at the Art & Heritage Center, 116 5th St., and display cases and exhibits at the Windsor Community Recreation Center, 250 N. 11th St.

Carrie Knight, the manager of the Art & Heritage division for the town of Windsor, said in the past the open-door model was used, so that’s why they’re trying the Open Door/Open House theme this summer.

“We really wanted to look at a different model,” Knight said. “We wanted to take a step back and say, ‘This worked in the past, will it work for us now? Let’s try it out,’ ” Knight said.

Knight said the different themes for the Open Door/Open House events are an additional incentive for guests to visit the museum.

“We have some really interesting resources at our disposal,” Knight said. “We have some incredible collections and stories that warrant telling. We have a collection of over 25,000 objects that are not always on display. We have to share their importance with the community. We’re able to do that through educational programming that we offer in the schools. We’re able to do that through exhibits that we host not just at Boardwalk Park, but also at the Art & Heritage Center and at the Community Recreation Center.”

Knight said people can also access the museum website at http://www.windsorgov.com/artandheritage. She said there were 2,000 visitors last year.

“We’re trying to increase that visitation. We do offer a free cell phone audio tour of our historic buildings at Boardwalk Park,” Knight said. “The cell phone tour can be accessed via cell phone or online.”