Town officials ponder new home for Hatfield Historical Museum

  • Kathie Gow, the curator at the Hatfield Historical Museum, talks about an exhibit called “Out of the Darkness, A History of Illumination in Hatfield,” in December 2018. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/27/2021 10:15:07 AM

HATFIELD — Most communities in the region, no matter how big or small, have dedicated buildings to display and store their historic artifacts.

While the Hatfield Historical Society oversees the Hatfield Historical Museum on the upper floor of the town library, members of the Hatfield Historical Commission are looking to begin a process that might identify a separate building where the collection can be held.

At a recent Select Board meeting, commission member and real estate agent Micki Sanderson suggested that the town explore finding an appropriate place, ideally in the town center, for storing and presenting artifacts and holding various events.

“There’s been no site or communal center for these happenings,” Sanderson said.

One possibility, Sanderson said, would be to purchase an existing antique home in or near the center of town that could be transformed into a museum. 

Select Board Chairwoman Diana Szynal said every option has to be on the table. “I like the idea,” she said.

The discussion comes after a meeting in December in which there were questions about whether the museum would be able to move its collection back to Memorial Town Hall following the extensive renovation of the building or instead would have to continue to use off-site storage spaces.

There also has been talk about having dedicated space in Town Hall for exhibits.

Bob Osley, president of the Hatfield Historical Society, wrote in an email that the society is actively involved in the efforts to safely store and display the collection, observing that for 50 years the society has managed the historical collections and both the historical and farm museums.

“We are both exploring all the options to best protect and share the items,” Osley said of the joint work being done by the commission and society.

The society covers the funding for the curatorial staff, acquires grants to fund exhibits, preservation of artifacts and research and organizes volunteers to catalog, research and enter items in a digital database, and produces several exhibits each year to share Hatfield's history with the public and schools.

If a property is sought, the Select Board would convene a working group focused on the space that would be needed and whether the Community Preservation Act could help bring it to fruition.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.
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