I am looking forward to spring and what it may mean for the 45th Infantry Division Museum. I feel confident that COVID cases will diminish to some degree by summer and that we will see increased visitorship in our galleries. Although it is too early to predict, I am optimistic that we might be able to hold our Memorial Day Ceremony. Time will tell, and I will keep you all updated as we get closer to May.
A quick update on the new museum project, this legislative session, the Oklahoma Military Department hopes that the state legislature will approve the bond issue for construction of a new building. I love our historic armory, but as you are all aware, the building presents many challenges. We have outgrown our space for both storage and exhibitions. A new museum would provide us with the exciting opportunity to better serve our guests. Moving to a new building and creating new displays will come with its own set of challenges, but it will be worth it!
Plans are underway for an update for the Dachau Gallery. The museum has engaged in preliminary discussion with Arizona State University for students in the WW II Studies program to assist with a redesign of the space. We welcome the student’s input, and I believe that this joint venture will benefit both the museum and the students. Most of the curatorial work will be completed in the summer, and hopefully, we will make changes before the end of 2021.
One thing I am looking forward to as we see COVID numbers decrease is a continuation of public programming. The Lunch and Learn series showed great promise just before the virus hit, and as soon as we can safely gather together, we will continue with this casual lecture series. In the meantime, I will be presenting an online talk on Bill Mauldin for the Army Transportation Museum on March 10. I will send a link and additional information in early March if anyone is interested in watching the presentation.
Museum projects continue to move along at a steady pace. Volunteer archivist, Claudia Bullard, is organizing files. When this project is completed, we will have a better sense of our collections, allowing museum staff to use our rich archival materials, and outside researchers will have enhanced access.
We have been working diligently to have a more robust catalog of our Mauldin collection. Jon Joyce has been a tremendous help in measuring the cartoons and recording detailed information about each drawing. We have also scanned all but twelve of the originals, making them more accessible for staff and outside researchers. Although the Bill Mauldin estate owns the rights to these images, we work closely with them to ensure that they are made available. We are fortunate to be the caretakers of this important collection of World War II cartoons. If you have interest in assisting with a museum project, please feel free to inquire at the museum or via email.
Take care—and as always thanks for your continued support of the museum – Denise