BACK TO THE FUTURE...Iberville Museum has list of future historic programs to offer

Tryve Brackin
PLANNING FUTURE EVENTS...Iberville Museum’s team, from left, of Rita Lynn Jackson, James “Fry” Hymel, and Beth Cardinal are forever planning and plotting how to better present Parish history to both locals and tourists who come to Plaquemine.

“People of Iberville” already has been a huge success for the Iberville Museum, but programs set for the future include the continuation of Parish ethnic group history as well as other projects under consideration as far into the future as 2012.

The museum, located in the old Plaquemine City Hall building adjacent to the famed Locks, has its operations financed through grants, memberships and fundraisers, although a grant provided by the Iberville Parish Council is a tremendous aid. Organized in 1999, the museum opened in the old City Hall in 2000.

Currently, James “Fry” Hymel is the Chairman of the Board of Trusties, while Rita Lynn Jackson is the board’s Treasurer and Stella Trepagnier is the Secretary of the board. Bethany Cardinal is the Director/Curator of the museum.

Hymel, Jackson, and Cardinal were available last week for a discussion of future special events involving the museum. First on the agenda will be the People of Iberville African American exhibit, which opens this Saturday (Feb.7) with ceremonies and fanfare at 2 p.m.

The exhibit is expected to run for a period of months. The next exhibit being planned will be the Germans of Iberville Parish, sometime later in the year. Expected to follow in March of 2110 will be the Irish, Scot-Irish, English of Iberville and then the Lebanese/American Indians of Iberville in Fall of 2110. Ending the People of Iberville exhibition series will be the French of Iberville Parish, set for sometime in 2011. During the same time period, or perhaps as early as next year, the museum group is planning an exhibit on “Sugarcane”. Plans are to feature St. Louis Plantation, one of the oldest plantations still owned by the same family. Under serious consideration for 2011-12 will be an exhibit on the People of Bayou Chene/The Atchafalaya Basin.

Jackson, who is the project director for the African American exhibit, noted: “We have high hopes this upcoming series as well as those into the future will draw as much interest as those we began last year with the Spanish and Italian exhibits.”

Records of museum visitors indicated a total of almost 800 visitors during the time of the Italian exhibit. Meanwhile, the exhibit on Spanish and Canary Islanders in Iberville shown a similar total, despite the fact the exhibit was limited during the month of September in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.

In addition to the first two exhibits the museum featured a book signing on the Fourth of July (J.E. Bourgoyne’s “Marietta’s House” in conjunction with the opening of the Spanish exhibit.

“The Fourth of July always is a big event day for the museum. We always have free admission day on the Fourth and we always seem to draw a good crowd of visitors. We also link up with the Plaquemine Locks in partnership events like ‘School Days’ events. This year the Locks will celebrate its 100th anniversary with special events that will include the museum,” said Cardinal.

The Locks will hold a special celebration Saturday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the museum open for events as well. A “Lock Fest” is in the planning for Saturday, April 11 in the afternoon hours of 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. On the April 4 Locks Celebration Day the museum will hold a book-signing event for “Fry” Hymel. He has published a book entitled “A Human Interest Look At the Carrie B Schwing” and additional copies will be available April 4.

“The Locks are hoping to hold a number of special events during the year and we will attempt to partner with them for certain events,” noted Cardinal.

 Now that the new Veterans Memorial is in place adjacent to the nearby “new” Plaquemine City Hall on Railroad Ave., the museum people say the see a potential of providing additional interests to visitors when Veteran’s Day events are likely to be held in the future. The museum also has hosted Scavenger Hunts for children on School Days held at the Locks.

“We have a full plate coming up over the next year and it should continue on into the future,” explained Jackson.

The special exhibits are set up in the Bienville Room, which is located on the Mississippi River side of the old City Hall building. If future exhibits have an overflow of historical objects the main gallery and adjacent rooms will be used.

“We have no storage, so we ask people who wish to donate for our next exhibit later in the year, or in a future year, to begin to think ahead, but wait to bring by items,” explained Jackson.

Hymel noted that consideration to add museum space into an adjacent building could eventually be feasible, but a doorway would have to be made and additional construction would be needed.

In the meantime, the main museum still has room for some items and the Bienville Room has room for a relatively sizable exhibit.

“Our trusties want the museum to thrive and be a very important part of Parish tourism long into the future. We all put a lot of effort into making it work and planning our special exhibits,” noted Hymel.

“Our board members are devoted and hard working. Including meetings, our members put in close to eight-hundred volunteer hours last year,” commented Cardinal.