CENTERVILLE — It took years of hard work to bring Whitaker Museum back to life.
Now, the Utah Division of State History is recognizing those efforts. The organization gave the museum an Outstanding Contribution Award earlier this month, honoring the 10 years of effort it took to remodel the museum as well as the programs that have helped draw more than 1,700 visitors since Whitaker reopened this past March.
“All of these programs have made more of an awareness,” said Nancy Smith, vice chairwoman of the museum board. “Since we’re only open one day a week, I don’t think we were even on the radar before.”
The museum is only open Tuesdays and by appointment, but the volunteer staff is making the most of the day. Local residents take turns telling stories from the early days of Centerville fron 6:30-8 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month. The musum will also hold a free Halloween event on Oct. 24 in connection with the Centerville Youth Council’s Pumpkin Party.
The complete list of activities can be found online at centervilleut.net/museum.events.html.
“We’re calling it a living museum,” said Smith. “It’s not a museum where there’s only dead artifacts. We’re bringing history forward.”
The volunteers who serve as museum guides are also trying to bring that feeling into the tours they offer. There are 17 guides at the moment, some of whom are descendents of the Whitaker family, and they drive in from as far away as Orem and Park City to lead tours of the museum.
“The guides are very knowledgeable, and it adds a lot of interest to the museum experience,” said Smith.
Another woman offers spinning demonstrations during the Tuesday tours, discussing the complicated and often messy process of getting silk out of silkworms. Thomas Whitaker’s wife raised silkworms.
In addition to the volunteers, the museum board remains active in supporting Whitaker. Originally only a five member board, it was expanded to six in order to handle all the various aspects of the museum.
“Whitaker Museum is so important to maintain for our city,” said Centerville City Council Member Lawrence Wright. “The people have just rallied to make it come together.”