05/04/11 — Cherry Museum expands

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Cherry Museum expands

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 4, 2011 1:46 PM

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Tanya Rollins, special services director at Cherry Hospital, sorts through pictures from the 1940s and 1950s for inclusion in the hospital's museum. First opened in 1981, the museum has recently undergone renovations and been expanded from one room to three. A public open house is planned for Monday.

Tanya Rollins' enthusiasm for the Cherry Hospital Museum is obvious as she moves from room to room pointing out recent changes to renovate and expand the converted office building to include additional finds.

The special services director is putting the finishing touches on the former one-room museum that will now feature three rooms of artifacts, furnishings and photos from Cherry's history.

The museum first opened around 1982, initially dedicated as a visitors center located on the edge of the hospital property.

This week, with the walls already having received a fresh coat of paint and the exhibits made sturdier, the wooden floors are being waxed and polished to a new luster.

"Volunteers and I cleaned all the wood furniture," she said. "It's not a 'me' project, it's a 'we' project."

The offices that once were in the building, including Mrs. Rollins' and that of volunteer services, have been relocated to the Royster Building. Fire codes dictate there be no occupancy on the upper floor, but at the same time, also allowed for the expansion of the museum area.

Mrs. Rollins' efforts to unearth additional pieces of history to roll out have been fascinating to her, and she hopes will be to others as well.

"We have always had the list of firsts, but we went through the Chronicles (Cherry newspaper) and wrote down every kind of historical thing that has happened through the year," she said.

Like discovering that such celebrities as actress Marlee Matlin have visited the museum.

Or finding an autographed photo of Andy Griffith.

Picking up the framed picture, she pointed out the typed notation recently attached, explaining how an episode of Griffith's TV show "Matlock" was filmed on the Cherry grounds in December 1994. The film company later made a sizable donation to the Cherry Hospital Forgotten Patient Fund.

There are all kinds of interesting tidbits, she pointed out. Hopefully the compilation will be preserved and enjoyed for many years to come.

Previously, the museum was contained in one room and featured only a few photos on the wall, historical references about the hospital over the years and a display of medical and dental equipment and nurses uniforms from a bygone era.

With the expansion, there is now a library where all the documents and an assortment of medical books are held.

Down the hallway to the main room is a "wall of directors" featuring photographs of those who served as hospital director over the years.

"Dr. Frank Whelpley (director from 1938-1946) has a grandson that lives in New York," Mrs. Rollins noted. "Back in 2000, he visited the museum and donated to us a huge box of negatives of rolls of film from his grandfather's collection."

Don Edwards, a now-retired facility maintenance manager whose father worked there during the time when staff and patients lived on the grounds, has done a great job of preserving much of the history, Mrs. Rollins said. He assisted in converting the donated film and also wrote numerous "history corner" columns that are posted on the museum walls.

The museum does not have regular operating hours, but rather offers appointments for groups to come and visit.

"We get a lot of calls," Mrs. Rollins said. "Sometimes people have just stopped by. The phone number is on the door."

On Monday, there will be an open house for the public to tour the newly expanded museum, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Most of the exhibits are self-explanatory, she said, but staff will also be on hand to answer questions and serve as hosts.

"We're excited and hope the community will come out," she said. "I love to share the history. Plus it opens the doors for the public to volunteer or donate things that the patients can utilize."

For more information on the museum or to schedule visit, call 580-2936.