Vt. Historical Society grant to allow exhibition of seldom seen artifacts

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 4:37 PM EST
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Historical Society in Barre will soon be allowing public access to thousands of historical treasures currently locked away in storage.

“The whole reason that we are preserving these objects is to help tell history to people. So, if they are just sitting in here and people don’t know about them, they’re not doing that,” said the society’s Teresa Greene.

Empty spaces inside the Vermont History Center in Barre will soon be filled, bringing pieces of Vermont’s history into the public eye.

“For the last over 20 years, we have been renovating and working on this, this beautiful old building, and making it a real treasure for the state of Vermont. And this is the last piece,” said the society’s Stephen Perkins.

“In total, we have about 30,000 objects in the collection and we do eventually want to get all of them easily available in one way or another, whether that’s visible in person or online,” Greene said.

“This is bringing all of our objects which we have in a climate-controlled storage out into the public so that our visitors can come and research and understand a lot of Vermont history and Vermont stories,” added Perkins.

Funding for the project comes from $210,000 the organization received as part of this year’s federal omnibus spending bill. Historians say the displays will expand the possibilities for research, study, and education. “These objects are stories -- this is people’s pasts. So, we hope that all people can come here, look at these objects, find themselves in Vermont stories. That’s what’s really exciting,” Perkins said.

The history center will be implementing an open storage and research gallery, a technique for exhibiting historic artifacts that invites close observation and study. “Right now, these are only available by appointment and you kind of have to know what you’re looking for. With the open storage concept, it’ll look kind of like this but with plexiglass in front of it. We have a lot of cool objects that are really interesting on their own but aren’t necessarily easily fit into like a timeline of Vermont history, so this will give us a chance to pull out things we can’t show every day,” Greene said.

While the project is still ongoing, staff say they’re looking for volunteers and donors to help with future programming and collections.

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