By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Tupelo’s city museum now has full slate of advisers who will find ways to share the community’s history of struggle, triumph and can-do spirit.
Tupelo’s City Council confirmed last week a promise made more than three months ago by Don Lewis, city chief operations officer and former city parks and recreation director, for a revamp of a tired and disillusioned Oren Dunn City Museum advisory board.
Seven museum advisory board members confirmed last week brings six new members with new perspective, ideas and energy toward finding new ways of sharing Tupelo’s history. Altogether, the advisory board includes seven members who represent each city ward and two appointees from the support organization, Friends of the Oren Dunn City Museum, and Ward 5 Councilman Buddy Palmer, the City Council liaison.
This advisory board marks the first time in close to a decade that each position has an appointed member. Its public meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. at the museum on the second Thursday of each month.
Rae Mathis, museum curator, said the new team of advisory board members should create a group ready to re-energize the city-operated museum.
“You’ve got a group of people who love the museum,” Mathis said. “And I think we’ve got a great group of people who will give great support.”
The advisory board has struggled for months to have enough members present for a quorum, often making planning the museum’s future a challenge. A couple of members stepped down for personal reasons while others members left feeling exhausted after years of exploring a new location ended with no action.
A lofty price tag of $10 million ruled out a plan to relocate to the old Carnation Milk Plant. The board approved a new master plan in 2012 that involved staying in Ballard Park but many members soon stopped attending meetings.
Boyd Yarbrough, president of the support organization and a member of the local historical society, said the new advisory group will have an opportunity to shape the quality of exhibits and determine how visitors and longtime residents will learn about Tupelo’s history.
“We need to preserve Tupelo’s history, highlight it and let people know how the place became what it is,” he said.
The Oren Dunn Museum’s new advisory board members include:
• Greg Pegues – Ward 1
• Bettye Woolard – Ward 2
• Victor Armstrong – Ward 3
• Aaron Washington – Ward 4
• Nick Humber – Ward 5
• Bill Yarbrough – Ward 6
• Elquin Gonzales – Ward 7
Friends of Oren Dunn City Museum appointees: Boyd Yarbrough and Susie Dent