With a goal of stretching beyond the walls of its modest cottage and growing in 2017, the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History is working to introduce a set of guided tours of the town this summer.
The museum’s board elected new leadership during Tuesday’s annual meeting, held in front of the brewer’s tanks at the newly opened Wrightsville Beach Brewery. Tina Williamson, elected 2017 president, said in addition to new outreach education programs, the museum will embark on a fundraising campaign to help it grow with the addition of new space.
“Our weakness is we’re in one little building. It’s a tiny spot, but we have so much to share,” Williamson told the board after her election. “This is our time to look at how we can expand our exhibits with things like signage and audio tours. We can’t grow beyond our walls, but we can grow with new technology.”
In the near term, museum staff told the board they were planning to bring more of the history out to the town. A first step will be the addition of guided tours, program director Joshua Cole said, starting with The Loop, and with plans to expand to the beach strand and both ends of the island, with some potentially focusing on architecture or other specifics topics of the town’s history. The goal is to have guided tours of The Loop ready for the North Carolina Azalea Festival, scheduled for April 5-9, Cole said.
The museum will look to expand its exhibits to fit some of the town’s modern history, Cole said, especially with the expansion of programs related to the museum’s Waterman Hall of Fame. Cole said the museum was considering unique programs like demonstrations on board shaping or crab pot making, among other ideas.
“Watermen don’t want to be commemorated, they want to pass on what they’ve learned,” Cole said. “We want to capture the more recent cultural history by educating people about the activities of watermen, how he lives, plays and works in the waters of Wrightsville Beach.”
An example of that idea is Camp Chris Stone, an annual kids’ camp that teaches fishing and local ecology, while it also serves as a museum fundraiser. The camp will go into its third year in 2017.
“They’re learning the types of things that every kid would have been learning 50, 60 years ago,” Cole said of the camp. “A lot of hall of fame recipients are from a different generation. The world is very different now.”
The meeting also marked the end of the six-year term limit for three board members: president Lori Rosbrugh, vice-president John Sideris and treasurer Jan Wessell.
“We’ve established the museum as a destination where people come not just to see the exhibits, but to experience how things used to be back in the day,” Rosbrugh said. “Visitors get a feel for what life used to be living in the cottages.”
Joining Williamson on board leadership is Skip Funderburg, who was elected vice president, and Charlotte Murchison, a new board member who was elected treasurer. Also joining the board this year are Louise Hicks and Coleman Cooper.