UNION — Fewer people may have visited the Union County Museum in January than in previous months but those who did had nothing but good to say about the experience.
In September, there were 197 visitors to the museum. The number of visitors more than doubled in October to 424. November was the museum’s busiest month of 2012 with 1,073 visitors. Of those, 689 visited the museum during the three hours of Christmas Open House on Nov. 15 while the remaining 364 visited during the rest of the month. December saw 252 visitors to the museum.
January was the first month since September that the museum had less than 200 visitors. Museum Director Ola Jean Kelly reported that there were only 121 visitors to the museum. Kelly attributed the fewer number of visitors to the weather, but cautioned that, as with every month, the number includes only those visitors who signed the museum’s guest book. She said the actual number is higher and that museum continues to encourage all visitors, regardless of how many times they’ve visited to sign the guest book.
“The cold and wet weather in January impacted visitors to the museum with only 121 signing the guest book,” Kelly said. “We continue to struggle to get people to sign the guest book so we can have an accurate count of how many visitors we get each month.”
Kelly said an accurate count of the museum’s visitors is necessary to demonstrate the viability of the museum to those agencies and individuals who support it financially, including the City of Union, Union County, the members of the Union County Historical Society, and the general public
“We receive support from the city and the county, from membership dues and from donations,” Kelly said. “It it is important that those who support us to know how many visitors we receive each month so they can see how viable the museum is. People who invest in anything want to know if it is viable.”
The guest book is next to the front door of the museum and visitors are encouraged to write their names, where they are from, and comments about their visit. Those who have taken the time to sign the guest book have been unanimous in their praise and January was no different.
• What wonderful treasures to behold.
• Will return soon with others
• Wonderful collection, information and a welcoming staff
While the weather may have kept down the number of visitors, those that visited the museum in January came from all over South Carolina, the rest of the United States, and even from Asia.
Kelly said South Carolina visitors from outside the county were from Aiken, Chester, Columbia, Fort Lawn. Greer, Newberry, Pacolet, Pickens, Rock Hill, Roebuck, Spartanburg, West Columbia and Whitmire. Visitors from outside South Carolina were from Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas.
January was also the first month since October that the museum had visitors from outside the United States and the first time since August since it had visitors from Asia.
Kelly said there were three visitors from Mongolia in January who were making their second visit to the museum. She said the visitors were Union County native Chris Owenby who is a missionary in Mongolia and is married to a Mongolian woman, and two of his children. Owenby, his wife, their three children, and his mother-in-law visited the museum in August. Kelly said the family is spending a year in South Carolina before returning to Mongolia.
In addition to the main floor which houses most of the artifacts on display, the museum has a meeting room in its basement that is available for use by local and area organizations. Kelly said the groups that used the meeting room in January included the DAR, Youth Leadership Union, Leadership Union and the Catawba Council on Aging. She said the Catawba Council on Aging presented a program on legal issues facing seniors and a local attorney was present to answer questions.
Cross Keys House
During January Kelly presented a program on the events at the Cross Keys House in 2012 at the monthly senior’s luncheon at First Baptist Church. The events featured included the Living History Event, a wedding and participation in the Home Tour sponsored by the Healthcare Foundation.
The Cross Keys House is one of the historic sites of Union County, having been visited by Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1865.
Kelly also announced that the next phase in the museum’s progress toward national accreditation will get under way next week.
“Dr. Rodger Stroup will be in Union February 26 and 27 to do the museum assessment of our facility,” Kelly said. “Tuesday will be spent primarily at the museum with Wednesday’s schedule including the Cross Keys House and the Historic Trail. This is a part of the first step toward having the Union County Museum accredited. Only four percent of the museums in the US are accredited. To get to this point we have undergone a rigorous self assessment involving both the board of directors and the staff and including a review of policies and procedures.
“Dr. Stroup, who was formerly associated with the State Museum and the Department of Archives and History, is highly respected in the state and nation,” she said. “We look forward to his visit.”
For more information about the Union County Museum call 429-5081.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.