Bethany museum draws volunteer docents


The appeal for new docents for the Bethany Beach town museum has been a considerable success. As of Tuesday, a dozen people had expressed interest in being among those who provide extra information about the exhibits hosted in the town hall lobby.

Members of the Cultural and Historical Affairs Committee (CHAC) met on Tuesday, May 22, to discuss the docents’ schedules and other aspects of the museum and other CHAC projects, and they were pleasantly surprised to find that their roster of docents is nearly as full as they would have liked.

Some 16 or more docents would be ideal, according to Mayor Carol Olmstead, who chairs the committee. With that many people involved in the program, the museum could be staffed each weekend in the summer with no one having to work more than a half-day.

The docents not only keep the museum open on the weekends, when town staff are not on duty, but are able to provide additional information to go along with the town’s historical exhibits or to answer questions from museum visitors.

Olmstead said she hoped to set up a preliminary meeting between all the docents sometime in the next week, leading up to a formal orientation for the group so that they will be ready to provide information to the museum’s increasing number of summer visitors.

CHAC member Margaret Young also suggested on May 22 that the town consider having docents available during the week, so that their informational duties could continue outside the weekends.

Olmstead said she didn’t believe the time was ripe for that move, but other committee members suggested that perhaps the addition of a Friday docent presence might be a good starting point if the committee chooses to move beyond the weekend-only docent staffing in the future.

The museum is busiest on cloudy and rainy days, they noted, with no ability to predict when docent availability would be best. Depending on who volunteers as docents, they added, some might prefer to volunteer on a weekday instead of the weekend.

New docents are still being sought. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Bethany Beach Town Hall at (302) 539-8011.

Notecards, paintings, prints to be ready soon

CHAC members also approved a number of museum-related expenses on Tuesday.

They gave a nod to the framing of two previously donated paintings, by local artist Laura Hickman, which depict the town’s unique alleyways. The frames will be selected to match the painting of historical home Journey’s End that was donated by artist Carol Hughes. All three are to be hung above the stairs overlooking the museum area.

A fourth piece of art was recently donated to the museum, as a memorial for a Bethany Beach Historical Society member. Local artist Ellen Rice’s “Out of the Mist” depicts the historic Addy Sea on a mist-filled beach. The framed print is now featured on one of the walls in the museum/lobby area in town hall.

Committee members also approved the amount bid for printing of 100 sets of notecards that depict the historical homes drawn for the mural that now overlooks the museum. The notecards, sold as sets of nine with envelopes, should be available through the town museum and possibly at town events, for $12 or less, sometime this summer.

Olmstead said she was still pursuing cost estimates to have the original town street map that is the centerpiece of the mural reproduced as a larger print that would be suitable as a decorative object. The town museum would also sell those prints, once they were done.

All of the mural-related sales are geared toward helping recoup the cost to the committee of the original production and installation of the mural.

Another recent expenditure for the committee has been fulfilled, with the installation in recent weeks of bronze markers indicating the historical nature of some homes and sites within the town. Public Works Supervisor Brett Warner has installed the markers at their related locations, all of which are now included in a revised brochure that allows visitors to follow a walking tour of the town and its history. The brochure is available in the museum.

Subcommittees created for CHAC projects

Also on May 22, Olmstead began the formation of several sub-committees for CHAC, to allow the increased delegation of what have been her own duties as chairwoman. In addition to the museum responsibilities, sub-committees will also be focusing on a slate of cultural events that is entering its third year and on the committee’s oral history project. Olmstead said she hopes to begin recording interviews for the latter project during this summer.

CHAC will next meet on Tuesday, June 12, at 10 a.m. in the town hall. Meetings normally set for July and August have been canceled.