Dear Friends,

It seems impossible that November is upon us once again.  And once again, our world is vastly different than it was just a short year ago.  As a community, we moved beyond the challenges of isolation, and began to tackle an entirely new set of challenges.

In our last annual letter, we shared our plans to re-open after the Covid-19 shutdown; ‘stronger than ever, with our mission on track, and our commitment to community in focus’.  One year later, we are both proud and humbled to report that our plans became reality; against all odds, and much in thanks to all of you.

In the Fall edition of The Village Voice (enclosed), we shared a snapshot of our summer season: ‘6 full-time and 8 seasonal employees, 1 intern, a devoted Board of Directors, and a core of priceless volunteers welcomed more than 10,000 visitors in 60 days, while caring for 35 acres, 39 exhibits, 46 cars, 4 trains, 2 goats and a store. We celebrated Maine’s 201st birthday and honored longstanding traditions.’ We introduced a new brand, a new store, several new events, new and improved exhibits, and substantial property improvements.  The momentum continued through the Fall season as the museum welcomed 2 weddings, 3 charitable events, and 3 community events.  And the excitement continues at full steam through year end, with the debut of a new event series in November; Moonshine and Whiskey:  A Speakeasy Night at the Museum, followed by the beloved North Pole Express each weekend in December, until Christmas.

Most importantly, 2021 marked the 56 season of lifelong memories made at the museum.  Generations of families carrying on their beloved traditions.  The sweet sound of laughing children running across the Village Green or playing on the caboose. Otherwise, ordinary moments became more special than ever before.  The museum provided a safe place for family and friends to get outside and gather.  A simple, yet priceless gift, and a valuable lesson learned in the past year and a half.

Hardship has indeed made us stronger, and we move into 2022 more confident than ever before, in our ability to overcome unexpected obstacles.   We have exciting plans for the museums’ future, and we humbly ask for your continued support, as we move forward in our efforts to preserve, educate, and honor Maine’s history.

 

A 100% Match on Donations Received before December 31, 2021:

As in years’ past, our longtime generous donor will match all donations made before December 31, 2021, allowing us to reach our goals in half the time.  Donations can be designated to a specific project, or applied to our general museum fund, donor’s choice.   All donations are 100% tax deductible.  Donations of any size are valuable and appreciated.

PROJECTS, PLANS & PRESERVATION

Artisan Days and New Exhibits: Additional educational and interactive content! The museum plans for the return of the ever popular “Artisan Days” program in 2022. With proper funding, we hope to create a more robust version of this program bringing back previous artists and seeking out new artisans to showcase their trades and talents. New and refreshed exhibits are also on the list of improvements for the 2022 season. As cataloging of our collections continues, funding to refurbish exhibit spaces to accommodate newly developed exhibits is needed.

Archaeology Days at the Museum: If funded, a brand-new interactive archaeology exhibit will be installed where children can learn how artifacts get from the ground to on display in a museum. A mock archaeological dig of a historic homestead will be created on village grounds. Several days a week during the 2022 season or by appointment for field trips the activity will be led by Dr. Whitney Lytle.

Volunteer Coordinator: As the Railway Village Museum continues its trajectory of improvement and expansion, there will be an ever-increasing need for a volunteer workforce. Though the museum always has a need for volunteers at periodic events, the completion of the archive building will vastly intensify our volunteer requirements as the collections will need to be moved, documented, and organized into their proper storage locations. Preparation for these new volunteer opportunities will need to begin prior to the structure’s completion, including: the production of training materials, delivery of training sessions, and the organization of reliable and habitual volunteers. This necessitates the hire of an experienced Volunteer Coordinator and Educator. Funding to include this position on the RVM full-time staff will facilitate the museum’s capacity for growth and hasten our journey to self-sustainability.

Archival Building: 

As reported in our last annual letter, the museum took a tremendous step forward in preserving our past, when Dr. Whitney Lytle joined the team.  Dr. Lytle has made a remarkable impact since her arrival last Fall, specifically in her efforts to bring the museum and its artifacts to the highest level of museum quality standards {as defined by the American Alliance of Museums}.  Outlined in her report below, she addresses the critical need for an archival building as the ‘missing link’ in attaining these standards.   The building would accomplish all aspects of the museums’ mission:  Preservation, education, and community outreach.  The building would also be a catalyst for volunteer program development, and museum sustainability.

‘Most of our patrons already know the Railway Village Museum is home to a substantial collection of historic artifacts, rolling stock, antique vehicles, and historic structures.   But many do not know that items on display are only a fraction of the objects making up the museum’s collections. However, the museum has insufficient facilities to properly store, conserve, or restore the entirety of the collections. Particularly, our current storage facilities do not support proper control of environmental conditions, and our collections are at risk of continued deterioration. The construction of an archival building will allow for the preservation of our historic artifacts to appropriate museum quality standards. The architectural plans were created in consultation with the museum curator and an archival storage specialist who assessed our collections and specific needs. Additionally, we have long outgrown our facilities’ ability to properly store historic documents and significant book collection, therefore, the planned structure has been designed to include a library and historic document storage. The library will be made available to the public for research by appointment. The building design also includes a staging area for exhibit development currently unavailable given present spatial limitations. With this new space, we plan to create a new feature exhibit annually and arrange for rotating displays. Lastly, the archive building will facilitate the development of a robust volunteer program to assist in the rehousing and digital cataloging of our collections. Our desired outcomes relate directly to the care of our collections and the improved capacity to develop and deliver educational content to our visitors. Our plan for construction is broken down into six phases with a completion goal of December 2022. We hope you will consider funding toward this project, as it will ultimately allow us to be more effective custodians of Maine history and better serve our community through improved educational programming, resource accessibility, and volunteer opportunities.’ Dr. Whitney Lytle

General Museum Fund:

As we plan for growth and improvement, we remain focused on our mission to preserve and maintain current collections, exhibits, buildings, and grounds.  The massive 35- acre property is in constant need of care, and with that comes the need for regular funding.  Donations made to the general fund will play a valuable role in the museum’s future, allowing us to maintain the train tracks, buildings, grounds, auto museum, and all existing exhibits.  Donations allocated to the general fund also allow us to overcome unexpected challenges as they arise; a priceless asset when maintaining a vintage village.

It Takes a Village, and WE NEED YOU
The stories shared in the enclosed Village Voice are real life examples of how deeply the Boothbay Railway Village museum has touched the lives of so many, in our community and beyond.  The museum offers a rare opportunity in our region, and its existence relies on collaboration.

The Village has been offered an incredible opportunity to receive matching funds for total donations raised by December 31stIt is with humble appreciation that we ask our generous family of past donors, residents, and area businesses to help us, as we continue our mission to offer meaningful recreation to locals and visitors, who need the outlet now more than ever.

On behalf of the staff, volunteers, and Board, we wish to thank you in advance, for your consideration.

Charles E. Bamberg

President of the Board of Directors
Boothbay Railway Village Museum

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