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  • Last modified 97 days ago (Jan. 18, 2018)

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Museum director stepping down

Staff writer

After stepping up in a time of need, museum director Peggy Blackman has decided it’s time to step away.

Blackman took over in June 2016 after the death of former director Cynthia Blount that January.

“It was a hard decision,” she said. “I’m passionate about the museum, but I was missing out on a lot of little things like birthday parties, peewee basketball, and softball, and that’s not what I want to do.”

The 77-year-old grandmother said she wants to spend more time with her family. She has 11 great-grandchildren ranging in age from 9 years old to 3 weeks old.

“Peggy had a real interest in curating, i.e. changing exhibits regularly, and utilizing space,” said museum board vice president Jim Darrow. “She wanted to share her love for Marion with everybody.”

He said her reports to the board always were thorough and done with enthusiasm. She promoted the museum by connecting it to community happenings, he said.

Blackman wanted to encourage youth to visit the museum, so she extended the museum season to April through October. She has given tours to first grade, second grade, and high school students.

She has sought donations to make improvements.

A track-lighting system to be installed this winter will not disturb original fixtures and will provide electrical outlets to eliminate extension cords.

Old photographs are now preserved in acid-free boxes. A $1,200 software program, paid for by a $500 grant and donations, will be used to digitize records.

Blackman has promoted the museum by bringing in programs and speakers. The museum and city library are working together to bring in a Smithsonian exhibit from Feb. 24 to March 24.

The board has considered charging admission, Blackman said, but she has advised against it.

“Charging admission would discourage youth and families,” she said.

However, they have decided to charge a fee for genealogical research.

“The museum is a wealth of history, and I would hate to see the city lose it,” Blackman said.

She is “on-call” for tours at any time until a new director takes over. She can be reached at (620) 382-2541.

Blackman plans to remain active in Marion County Historical Society, of which she is president. The society is a network of museums and historic societies working together to preserve and promote county history.

Darrow said the board is looking for someone who loves history and would enjoy working with, cataloguing, and displaying artifacts. The director would serve as an ambassador for Marion, he said.

Training would be available for someone who has basic computer skills in implementing the new digital software. Grant-writing ability would be a plus.

The board is also looking for a new board member following Gary Ewert’s resignation.

Last modified Jan. 18, 2018

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