Denton County officials are looking at some internal and external reorganization of the museums department.
Commissioners recently approved a concept plan that will change the name of the department, improve some of the buildings and exhibits, and look for more funding sources.
“I think now is the time for us to recognize the county and its commitment to history,” said Peggy Riddle, executive director of the Denton County Museums.
She said the museums are separated and too focused on Denton. In order to be successful, the county museum needs to focus on history from all parts of the county, she said.
One of the changes to be made is to rename the department as the Office of History and Culture.
Officials say the reason for the name change is to reflect the expansion of the scope of the museum staff from just preserving historical artifacts and information about historical events to include meaningful contemporary events and to attract tourism to Denton County.
Riddle also hopes to further develop the historical park.
“That’s one of my major goals,” she said. “Now that we have had the commissioners approve the concept plan, we can estimate the costs.”
Riddle noted that officials are looking at other buildings to add to the park as well as simpler things like adding public restrooms.
She is working on grant proposals and talking to sources she has built up in her many years of museum work around the state to look at getting funding for the museums such as an endowment for the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum.
“If there are any major repairs to anything that is part of the historical fabric, we can get the right people who have the skills and the knowledge. Sometimes you have to pay a little more for that, [but] we want to make sure it’s done correctly.”
Commissioner Andy Eads, a staunch supporter of history and the county’s historical preservation, said he expects great things.
“These changes will better align our county employees to better serve our true mission, preserving our local history here in the county,” he said. “We’re already in discussion with foundations and corporate partners to help sponsor our exhibits so it is minimal cost to the county. Organizations change and evolve over time, as has this department in the past.”
Another area of interest with this reorganization is marketing and attracting people to the museums so they simply don’t passively stumble on the museums and instead actively seek out the museums for education and research.
Eads noted that part of the reorganization is retooling a vacant position in the curator of exhibits. That person will create educational exhibits that will serve as an attraction to the county museums as well as creating exhibits that will be presented at county buildings across the county, not just focusing on the city of Denton.
“We will be starting with our Iraqi war veteran exhibit, which will be unveiled later this month,” he said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .