The Toys go to War exhibit took me to the Museum recently. The exhibit was OUTSTANDING! Well put together and presented in a very professional manner. The amount of toys was quite impressive. I am curious as to whether some of the toys were on loan or if they were all from the Museum’s collection. I wonder about that, as I don’t remember the Museum curating that many toys while I was there. At any rate, it was a fantastic exhibit and I’m truly sorry for those that missed it. I hope to post a whole new section on the Toys Exhibit soon, so those that were not able to visit, can at least see some of the toys that were presented.
Here are my after thoughts on my visit as a whole.
Things seem to be a little different today than they were back when I worked at Silent Wings Museum. I left somewhere around 2005 and have only visited a couple of times since. As I stated, I visited at the end of the Toys go to War exhibit and I must say, while the exhibit was outstanding, the atmosphere was ….well, non-existent. It was sad. For such an outstanding Museum, upon entering you should feel the excitement that surrounded the Glider Program and genuine interest from everyone there. I can say that unequivocally because when I first went to work there, I had no idea what the Museum was about or what a significant part in history these men played. However, that quickly changed as the Glider Pilots themselves began visiting the Museum and inevitably engaged everyone around them with their fascinating stories. You just cannot help but become enthralled and by extension, enthusiastic about sharing the Museum with every visitor that walked through the door! I was sincerely disappointed by the lack of that enthusiasm by the employees that I encountered that day – perhaps it was just one of those off days and not a true representation of day to day operations.
While I worked there, visitors were greeted with Big Band Music in the front lobby. Unfortunately I don’t think it was playing the day I visited. My office was located in what is now the Library reception area, but I could still hear the music that played all day. During Christmas time, we played WWII period holiday music. When I think of that time, I always smile…hearing the music over and over got to be a little monotonous, but I would give anything to go back in time and listen to it again!
We always had volunteers on hand in case visitors wanted a guided tour – sadly, I saw no volunteers during my visit. There were two employees visible upon my arrival, and one of those left as I was paying. I was the only person in the gallery’s for the 2 1/2 hours I was there. Yes – two and a half hours and I used to work there! There were a few new exhibits, but that wasn’t what kept me there, and to be honest I really have no idea where the time went, and I really didn’t realize I had been there that long. The Museum is simply amazing and there will always be something you missed seeing on each visit.
It had snowed several days before my visit and I noticed the blue salt that had been thrown on the Plaza bricks in order to melt the snow and ice. While I can certainly understand the need for safety, the damage that the salt it doing to the personalized bricks is very discerning. I, along with many many others paid to have a brick engraved and placed in that Plaza, and I do not wish to see my father’s name disappear simply because no one wanted to shovel snow! Personally, I feel when you make the decision to lay personalized bricks, you also have made the decision to care for those bricks. I was more than a little upset at seeing blue salt continuing to cover the bricks, well after the snow was gone.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit! I was nice to see Billy and Rob again…and really the whole gang. I didn’t get to know Goldie all that well, in fact, I’m not sure Goldie was there when I left…but I was very much involved with Goldie and that is a whole story in and of itself! If you are not aware, I’m talking about the mannequins. We gave them names and they somewhat took on personalities. We needed ways of identifying which mannequin might need attention and what better way, than to give them names. You might ask yourself what type of attention might a mannequin need – you would be surprised. I honestly think they must have partied at night while the Museum was closed, as there was always clothes to straighten and artifacts to re-position from time to time.
Part of me misses the Museum very much. I don’t think I could go back and work there, but I very much enjoyed visiting again, and will try to visit more frequently.