The museum project is a giant love letter to the history of Woodhaven, one that longtime residents will enjoy visiting. But the real target audiences of the museum are the children and students in our community, who will be an integral part of this project.
There will be a sneak preview of the museum next Tuesday, October 10, from 2 to 7 p.m. at Emanuel United Church of Christ at the corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard. We’ll be setting up on the lower level, so please come in through the 91st Avenue entrance (look for our sign). Admission is free.
You’ll learn about John Pitkin, who founded Woodhaven, and Florian Grosjean, whose actions after the great fire of 1876 saved our community. You’ll learn about the Cyclone of 1895 and see a large color picture of the damage it left behind. And you’ll learn about Dexter Park and all of the legendary ballplayers that came to Woodhaven to play.
You’ll see some great “then and now” photos from around the neighborhood and be able to find your house on a giant map dating back to 1901. Come look at your street and see what its original name was. Come see a display on all of the movie theaters that used to be in Woodhaven. Come and find out more about the history of St. Anthony’s Hospital, which performed some groundbreaking work in the fight against tuberculosis.
Bring your kids so they can learn about the Anniversary Day parades that used to take place every June here in Woodhaven. Show them Brooklyn Manor and point out the trolley cars that used to run down Jamaica Avenue. Show them the pictures of the giant racetrack that used to be in Woodhaven and show them the many memorials that you can still visit.
The museum exhibit is part of a larger project that, we hope, will involve some of the schools in our community. After we’ve had a chance to show it to the community at a few events we will loan pieces of it to any local school that is interested. They can display as many or as few pieces as they want, and they can be scattered about and displayed in different locations around the school building.
At the same time, the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society will supply the school with art supplies that students can use to create paintings of local scenery and history. The end goal is to have a public showing of all of the student artwork from around the community.
Currently, the museum sits at 20 pieces and we plan to expand it greatly over the next few years. We’d like each school to design their own museum piece, which we will fund and give the school their own copy.
Our dream is to eventually have our own permanent space, but for now we will remain flexible and portable.
We have exhibited a few pieces over the past few weeks and the reaction is always positive. People take pictures of the pieces and, in many cases, take their pictures standing next to them.
We will have an official grand opening soon, but right now we are doing a sneak preview so we can show it off to a few people and so we can get pictures of the entire exhibit. We are holding this sneak preview on a weekday in hopes that some local teachers and principals will come out to see how their schools can benefit from this local history project.
The Museum of Woodhaven History was funded through the City Council and our representatives, Eric Ulrich and Elizabeth Crowley, as well as with a grant from the Citizens Committee for New York City. We were also helped greatly by SignLab on 80th Street and Jamaica Avenue whose owner, Frank, worked hard with us to get this first stage done.
And finally this was created with the help and support of you, the residents of Woodhaven. This museum will contain all of the history that you enjoy speaking about. In short, this exhibit is one giant love letter to the history of our great community. We hope you’ll be among the first to see it next Tuesday at our sneak preview.