An anniversary year is a special time to celebrate – to look forward – and, to remember the past. For 35 years The Miller Art Museum has served the community in many ways, including exhibits, classes, tours, lectures, parties, receptions, and an ever-growing permanent collection of Wisconsin art. How does all of this happen you may ask? The answer is dedicated and talented volunteers!
The Miller Art Museum has and continues to be a volunteer-based organization. With one full-time director and three part-time staff – together with an average of 160 volunteers – much can be accomplished. We estimate that over the last 35 years, 5,600 volunteers have given their time and energy to this special place. Volunteers provide so many services: security and sales, installation of exhibits, fundraising help, baking, hostessing, leading tours of the museum, outreach art education to students and seniors, administrative assistance, committee work, and the list goes on.
At a recent event, the Miller Art Museum honored five charter volunteers: Carol Hobson, Marion Hislop, Ruth Scholz, Myrtle Felhofer and Alice Keys! These women were involved at the very beginning, when Gerhard and Ruth Miller established and inspired the methods of this volunteer organization, and each of these women continues to support and help the museum today.
Our volunteers tell us they truly enjoy their service because they get to meet such interesting people, learn a great deal about art and artists, and are able to view each exhibit. Many volunteers have also found new and lasting friendships within the group.
The original staff at the museum helped Gerhard and Ruth shape the professional standards of museum practices that are still utilized today. Charles Lyons was the first Curator of Exhibits from 1975 – 1988. He also educated the volunteers with his vast knowledge of art and history. Lorraine Mengert worked with Lyons and later became the second Curator and then first Administrator, providing leadership and creativity and bringing in exciting and inspired exhibitions from near and far. It is the talented and strong shoulders of those who came before us that we stand upon today.
Continuing in their tradition, one of the many tangible benefits of a museum membership are the educational programs and lectures available throughout the year. Programs are held the second Thursday of the month at 10:30 am in the museum, often related to the current exhibit.
There is no admission fee, as we believe the arts are for everyone and no one should be denied the joy of a museum visit, so funding for the museum also relies upon volunteers. It is our hope that the community finds value in this institution and will support it. The museum is privately funded by donations, memberships, fundraisers, and grants, including a small grant from the county.
We continue to marvel at the inspired idea of a cooperative space agreement with the Door County Library building. Our visitors would agree it is a most pleasant experience to find us both here, ready to serve.
Hats off to all volunteers and supporters of the many non-profit institutions in our beloved Door County who make this an extraordinary place to live and work and play!
The Miller Art Museum is located at 107 S 4th Avenue in Sturgeon Bay. For more information call 920.746.0707 or visit http://www.millerartmuseum.org.
Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance, Inc., is a coalition of non-profit organizations whose purpose is to enhance, promote and advocate the arts, humanities and natural sciences in Door County.