By Greg Kowalski
This may sound odd, but a museum that always looks at the past will have no future.
Sure, a historical museum lives for the past, but it better have a clear vision of the future if it hopes to survive. That’s more apparent now than ever for the Hamtramck Historical Museum as we celebrate our 10th anniversary.
It was Labor Day weekend 2013 that the museum opened its doors for the first time. Really it wasn’t much to look at; hardly more than a collection of old things stuffed into cabinets.
The overhead fluorescent lights crackled and buzzed, and the color scheme of the walls — yellow and green — could upset your stomach. The carpeting was so amazingly dreadful that when we finally replaced it we saved a section as a memento of those primitive days.
But there was never any doubt of where we were going with our ambitious plan to build a community museum. And step by step we made improvements, not just to the building structure but also to our operations as a museum.
It was a long and difficult road. We faced challenges continuously, but we overcame every one of them. And gradually we began to gain respect and acceptance among our museum peers and the educational community.
That received a major boost when we signed an operating agreement with Wayne State University and conducted three archaeological digs in the city. We are still actively engaged with WSU (Go Tartars! I mean, Warriors!)
But even as we reflect on the past, we must still keep our vision fixed on the future. We still have a long way to go to achieve the success and status we are striving for.
And more than ever we are going to turn to you, our supporters, to help us move forward. We have big plans to expand our operations in a wide variety of ways. We’re going to turn to you and increase our base of supporters as we implement these plans.
I’m 72 years old now, and I told our board of directors that before I die, I want to see the Hamtramck Historical Museum be recognized nationally as an important historical organization.
I felt that way 10 years ago when I stood on the old, beat-up carpeting that covered our floor. The floor is lot nicer now, but my expectations haven’t changed a bit.
(Mr. Kowalski is the Executive Director of the Hamtramck Historical Museum.)
Posted Sept. 22, 2023