Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- As Karen Blandford-Anderson adjusts to her new role as curator of the Derry History Museum, she says public outreach will be her focus.
“There’s a lot of knowledge about Derry’s history that I don’t think people know about,” Blandford-Anderson said. “I felt like it was important spread the word.”
Blandford-Anderson, who has served on Derry’s Heritage Commission for five years, took over for retiring museum curator Rick Holmes in March.
And as Holmes steps down from his more active role, Blandford-Anderson said she hopes to engage a new round of volunteers to fill out the ranks.
“Rick is always our mentor, but I think it’s important that we start involving more people and get another group of people to bring it to the next level,” she said.
And Blandford-Anderson said she will place a particular priority on bringing Derry’s younger residents into the fold. “It’s amazing how many kids don’t even know we’re here,” she said. For the record, the museum is located in the basement of the Adams Memorial Opera House at 29 West Broadway.
“I think kids can be really interested in this, and if you get them young, they stay interested over the years,” she continued. “It gives young people a sense of where they came from and how they got here, both for themselves and the town.”
Most of the museum’s thousands of items come from people in the community who donate pieces from their own collections, Blandford-Anderson said. But curators also troll through Internet listings to find items that might be important to understanding Derry’s history.
Recently, she said, the museum acquired several pieces of Alan Shepard memorabilia through an online auction site.
But, like the museum itself, Blandford-Anderson said the collection is also full of hidden gems.
“Everybody knows Alan Shepard and Robert Frost,” she said. “But how about Nikki Tilroe or ‘Lefty’ Tyler?” Tyler, who played for the Boston Braves in the early 1900s, has a designated section in the museum. And Blandford-Anderson said volunteers are currently putting together a new room to honor Tilroe, an Emmy-award winning puppeteer most famous for her work with Jim Henson on “Fraggle Rock.”
The museum is open regularly from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, with special hours during the Derry Farmers Market.
For more information, visit www.derrymuseum.org.