Museums get local support

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

On Tuesday, members of the Bogalusa Civic League stopped by the new headquarters of the Museums of Cassidy Park on Avenue F to drop off their annual contribution.

Each year, the Civic League donates $200 to the museums, which include a pioneer museum and Native American museum. The museums had been in Cassidy Park but following the March 11 flooding, both museum structures were flooded, and water badly damaged the collections there and the buildings. Because of the flooding, Civic League President Janice Hilaire said the group more than doubled the donation to $500.

Museum volunteers said they were happy to get the check, and they’ve been touched by the outpouring of support for the local museums. In addition to the Civic League’s donation, Keith Hughes donated $10,000 to the museums and the new offices are in 750 Ave. F, donated by former mayor Charles Mizell.

“I don’t know what we would have done without him,” said museum secretary Carol Duke.

The address is next to a hair salon and a law office and located in Bogalusa’s historic shopping area. The collection is currently spread across desks and tables, but Duke hopes the historic storefront, which was once a car dealership, will be the permanent home of the museums.

“We want to make this into a storefront museum,” she said.

Robin Day, the vice-president of the museum, echoed Duke’s praise of Mizell.

“Charles Mizell gave us a great hand up when he offered to let us use the Avenue F facility,” said Day. “We had two museums full of dirty, wet artifacts and nowhere to go. When it looks the darkest, a ray of light seems to slip through.”

Day added that much of the donations have already been spent on restoration efforts.

“We have already spent a good bit of it purchasing shelving for the new facility, archival materials for the photos ran almost $1,000,” she said. “All of our computers, copier, plotter, projector, sound system — everything in the office was lost. We replaced the computer and copier so far.”

Some things cannot be replaced. Lost to the flood were many museum artifacts, though Day still hopes some of those can be recovered.

“We’re making plans to do digs to try to recover some of the items that were washed out of the Native American Museum,” said Day. “We need to sift through the piles of sand that were deposited throughout the park and surrounding area.”

Day said the museum has temporarily returned many of the privately owned artifacts.

“We returned the large private collections from the Native American Museum to the owners,” Day said. “They are waiting for the word that we are ready to set up a display to send us more fascinating artifacts. They have been very supportive, even cleaning the artifacts themselves, and helping us pack.”

But despite the losses, the museum is still looking forward to showing exhibits. Next month, the Bogalusa library will present a slideshow of 450 old photos from the museum’s City Hall Collection.

“These photos show the building of Bogalusa from its earliest times,” Day said. “There are great photos of ‘tent city’ and the construction of the Great Southern Lumber Company.”

Duke said that exhibit will debut May 3.

After that, Day said the library will update its library display with a revolving collection.

Duke asked anyone who is interested in volunteering to help out.

If anyone has donations, the museum is happy to accept those as well. At present, the museum’s Avenue F offices are open Tuesday and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.