Central Museum Of History To Open Doors

History is grabbing the spotlight for Central Methodist University’s Homecoming.

One of the signature events on the Homecoming schedule is the grand opening of the Central Museum of History at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, September 28 at T. Berry Smith Hall.

The museum recently changed its name to reflect a new mission focusing on preserving and interpreting the history of CMU, the City of Fayette, Missouri Methodism, and student activities at the university.

Dr. Robert Wiegers, professor of history, said the new museum will be far different from the natural history approach of the old Stephens Museum, which is currently closed and will reopen on the lower level of Stedman Hall of Science in spring 2019.

“A history museum cannot be static,” said Wiegers, who has managed the three-year museum renovation. “It must change to provide timely or new attractions that will make people want to come back. For instance, Christmas ornaments at Christmastime. Or traveling exhibits from the state history museum. Or perhaps we’ll have an observatory display from our own Morrison Observatory.”

Wiegers said the museum will maintain a permanent display area with such favorites as the Boone Stones (grave markers of Daniel Boone and his wife, Rebecca), the Jordan Coller Collection of Civil War Artifacts, and the World War II era-gyro compass similar to those used on U.S. Navy ships.

In addition, the museum’s focus on CMU history will be strong, and will grow, Wiegers said. One of Morrison Observatory’s old telescopes just arrived in the museum, and the rich history of the marching band at Central will be represented as well.

The museum’s collection of historic athletics memorabilia is burgeoning due to recent donations, and features a 1922 leather football helmet worn by alumnus Joe McClintic, a plethora of items from a 100-plus year history of basketball, several 1930-1940 football programs recently discovered in Clingenpeel Hall, a 1943 fabric jersey worn by William Morrow Sr., and much more.

Other items include a sextant (navigational device) used by the first captain of the S.S. Central Victory, a Navy ship named after Central Methodist; a growing Fayette black history display with material from Fannie M. Tolson, the last principal of Lincoln School – an all-black school in Fayette in the mid-1900s; and a full World War I display cabinet commemorating the 100th anniversary of the war.

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