Notes on First Meeting of the Kerr County Museum Focus Group

The Kerr County Museum focus group had its first meeting November 9, 2016. There were 30 people in attendance, and they were from different parts of the community. Dr. William Rector acted as moderator for the first meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss five questions:

  1. Do we need a historical museum?
  2. What should this museum look like or represent?
  3. What are the most important characteristics of a historical museum?
  4. How do we make a museum in the hill country successful?
  5. What approaches would this group suggest?
Each question yielded good discussion.

On the first, these were the comments:
  • a Kerr County museum should not include just a history of the 150 years since the founding of the county
  • should include prehistoric and geologic history
  • several people mentioned a museum in Alpine (The Museum of the Big Bend), which is a part of Sul Ross University
  • Mike Bolin pointed out several attempts have been made to establish a local museum, as early as the 1930s.  Another attempt was made in the 1940s by Merrill Doyle and others.  The only lasting museum was created by Dodo Parker and volunteers, the Hill Country Museum.  That museum worked because it had a lot of dedicated people working together
  • one member said we should have a museum: there is enough history to have a museum
The group agreed there was a need for a historical museum.

Next, what should a museum look like or represent?
  • should include the history of agriculture in our area
  • should include Texas Ranger information
  • it should have interactive displays, with electronic guides
  • we need to be ambitious: nearby Mason has two museums
  • it should include the history of music in our area
  • it should be inclusive and tell the story of our African-American and Hispanic-American families, too
  • one reported the recent exhibit of the Kerr County Historical Society was well-received
  • a museum should educate, and have programs for children
  • the facility should be located in a place where it could expand as needed
  • it should have changing exhibits, not just the same stuff on display
  • should include our industries here: Mooney, James Avery, HEB, etc.
  • should include information about the trail drives which originated here
  • it should tell the story of summer camps here
  • the V. A. Hospital/ Legion hospital should be included
The discussion turned to action items at this point:
  • should a separate non-profit organization be created?
  • should we seek an advisor of some sort?
  • should we secure a building first?
  • should we start with a concept first?
  • we need to be realistic, but also dream big
  • atmosphere and design are so important in a museum
  • a museum should capture the public's attention and inspire its imagination
  • we should create a 501(c)3 organization, develop a business plan, and then seek grants
  • the Texas Historical Commission should be able to provide assistance
How can we make a museum succeed?
  • what can we learn from the efforts in the past?
  • should we find an advisor?
  • someone should contact Alpine/ the Texas Historical Commission/ the museum(s) in Mason and Fredericksburg
The meeting concluded at the end of one hour, with a consensus to meet again.

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