Camden County Historical Society transformed the damaged Camden County Museum in just three months and is leading effort to create 30-member Camden County History Alliance
The Camden County Historical Society’s Executive Director, Jack O’Byrne, PhD, took over CCHS and its Museum in November 2015, after it had been shut down because of water damage from frozen pipes.
“We had a 100-year old 14’ “Nipper” stained glass window in storage and I saw its sister window in the Smithsonian in DC between Christmas and New Year’s. I thought that we had a national treasure and needed to display it. Kimi Tallant on my staff designed a platform at a 35 degree angle so it could fit within our 9‘ ceilings and worked with a local contractor to construct it with the ability to be back lit.
“We had commissioned an artist to do a mural of Camden history and he backed out. We then had to scramble to find a new artist who could meet the deadline and agree to just $2,500. We found Donna Backues who is a renowned mural artist who was willing to do it because she loved our project.
“We got 10 students from King University of Tennessee to paint our museum in one entire day in early mid-March and we worked hard to have our successful Grand Reopening on May 15, 2016.”
The Society has four part-time employees and annual revenues of $180,000. O’Byrne, who has a non-profit management and grant writing consulting practice called Your Grants Office, LLC, is also the part-time Executive Director of the Camden Shipyard & Maritime Museum which will have its Grand Opening on September 11, 2016.
Describing his reaction to being selected as the winner of an SNJBP Impact Award, O’Byrne says “It’s an honor, but the recognition for transforming the Camden County Museum in just three months should really go to the entire team including Kimi Tallant, Josh Lisowski, and Bonny Beth Elwell.”
Founded in 1899. CCHS has a four building complex including the Boyer Library, Pomona Hall, Camden County Museum, and Caretaker’s Building.
The oldest section of Pomona Hall dates from 1728 and was constructed by Marmaduke Cooper.
The whole idea behind our organization is “to keep Camden County’s rich heritage alive today and to be enjoyed by generations to come,” says O’Byrne. And plans call for converting the CCHS auditorium into the Cultural Heritage Gallery.
“Our goal for the 2016-17 school year,” he adds, “is to have every fourth grader in the City of Camden to visit our complex” and he’d also like the have CCHS become part of the Camden County Library System.