According to Martin Pierce, chairman of its board of trustees, plans for the traveling Jersey City History Museum to make a permanent home in the historic Apple Tree House on Academy Street are moving at a rapid pace.
Pierce said the city council authorized a payment of $25,000 to the council as the first installment of a $100,000 contribution from the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs to be used for general operating expenses. The balance will be paid after the MJCH board signs a lease with the city to occupy the Apple Tree House, he added.
In the meantime, Pierce said, the council is in the process of passing bylaws and obtaining its 501(c)3 tax-exempt status to become eligible for charitable donations to help support the operation of the museum. Pierce was unable to say what the institution’s annual operating budget would be, but he said the MJCH plans to appeal to philanthropic donors, corporations and individuals, and possibly funds from a membership fee in order to be independent. Jersey City’s Dante Alighieri Society has already pledged $1,000 as the first such donor, he noted.
The 12-member council, including Mayor Steven Fulop as an ex-officio member, meets every two weeks to lay the groundwork for the new venture.
“Once the lease is signed,” Pierce said, “we plan to have our first exhibit, which we’re calling ‘Frank Hague: Then and Now,’ as we examine the legacy of the former mayor and the themes associated with its town hall”, such as viewing Jersey City Medical Center as “a municipal experiment in socialized medicine, (the former) Roosevelt Stadium as a Federal Works Progress Administration project, and the ‘tubes’ H&M as a major breakthrough in transportation”.
“Optimally we will be opening in late fall, certainly no later than Christmas,” he added.
To help organize the event, the council hired a pair of exhibit consultants: Claudia Ocello (Museum Partners Consultants), of Morristown, and Johanna Goldfeld (Exhibitista.com), of Brooklyn, to help design the exhibit. of The Hague and others following.
Asked about the daily operation of the museum, Pierce said: “The city wants it to be open regularly during the week and some weekends, and wants us to engage with students. It’s meant to be a happening place with our doors opening to all residents.
To that end, the council is partnering with the Hudson County Office of Cultural Affairs and Heritage and its program specialist Matthew Caranante to co-host a roundtable on immigration to the county, which will take place on 6 October at 7 p.m.
The museum, housed for a century on the top floor of the main branch of the Jersey City Public Library on Jersey Avenue, moved to a new building nearby on Montgomery Street in 2001, but closed a decade later due to tax problems and friction with the city. Its historical content has been dispersed.
Many of those materials, including glassware, porcelain, furniture, costumes and artifacts, ended up in the Vorhees Zimmerli Museum of Art at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, Pierce said. Now, he pointed out, “we can expect to see a flow of material to the Jersey City Museum.”
MJCH board members say they are excited that the museum’s reopening will shed light on the city’s rich history, not only for long-time residents, but also for the many newcomers to the city. town.
And, said board member Paul Dennison, who also serves as chairman of the Jersey City Theater Center board of trustees, it’s critical that the museum present Jersey City “from multiple points of view and not just from one political elite.
In this context, Dennison said, the museum must “extend its boundaries to the placeholders of the community…and connect to its diversity and inclusion…like a Ken Burns movie that connects the dots from different parts of the community. We need to make sure this space is inviting for people from all walks of life and that requires us to listen to different expectations. »
Board member Jerome Choice says the museum “will reflect the mosaic of Jersey City residents, and because Jersey City is one of the most diverse cities in New Jersey, that’s what makes this city great.” .
Another board member, Heather Wahl, said she was “delighted to celebrate the history of our community.” Founding Artistic Director of the Speranza Theater Company, which currently operates in the Tree House, Wahl added, “From a theatrical perspective, think Williamsburg: actors dressed in period costumes can give historical tours and performances free at the historic Apple Tree House”.