New director enlivens Broken Arrow Historical Society Museum
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
12/07/12 at 6:39 AM
Correction: A Tuesday Tulsa World story incorrectly reported the first name of Broken Arrow Historical Society Museum staff member Lori Lewis. The story has been corrected.
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BROKEN ARROW - The tattooed sleeve of flowers on Janet Pippins' left arm sticks out at first glance amid displays of early settlers' clothing, old photographs and the like at Broken Arrow's history museum.
The wrist-to-elbow montage of reds, greens and blues seems out of place if you're expecting "an old, stuffy historical society," Pippins said. With a closer look, even her heavily pierced ears and flashy jewelry seem to fit.
"There's nothing about this place that's boring anymore," she said.
Since taking over as the Broken Arrow Historical Society Museum's director in December 2011, Pippins has dispelled the notion that history has to be boring, co-workers said.
New rotating displays, community outreach initiatives and special events have increased attendance, raised revenue and made local history accessible, they said.
Stuffiness, as Pippins likes to say, has been banished.
"I'm probably the only sleeved museum director in the state," she said. "For Broken Arrow, it's quite a stretch ... but they're coming around."
The museum, built in 2007 and opened in 2009, "had never seen fun" before Pippins' shake-up, enduring a reputation as "the castle at the end of the street, with a little sidewalk moat around it," she said.
Lori Lewis, one of two other full-time museum employees, said it was often mistaken as closed because the blinds were drawn and nothing was in the lobby.
Attendance began increasing when Pippins cleared a storage room for use as a temporary exhibit hall earlier this year. The third exhibit to use the space, "Quilts: Past to Present," is open through December. One featuring local artists' depictions of the female form is scheduled to begin in February.
Pippins also had the museum's previously vacant third floor converted into a banquet hall. Now rented out for weddings, meetings and other events, the hall has been a reliable revenue source and a good way to market the museum, Pippins said.
A gift shop has been added.
School tours have increased.
A "living history" program has brought local historical figures to life by using actors to depict them for museum tour groups.
Collections of artifacts and educational displays on the city's first settlers, its early economy, school and public safety systems have grown, and new items are added regularly.
"The thing is we get more people in the door now," said Marci Poverud, who has worked at the museum for nearly three years. "She has really done a very good job."
It's the first foray into history for Pippins, an artist who trained in The Netherlands, Japan and Singapore.
After nearly two years studying at a Dutch institute, she returned to open a "floral art studio" in her childhood home in downtown Broken Arrow, where she painted flowers on canvas and worked with textiles.
Broken Arrow Historical Society Museum
400 S. Main St.
Admission: $2 adults. Children free.
Memberships available from $15.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Original Print Headline: New director enlivens museum
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
Janet Pippins, the director of the Broken Arrow Historical Society Museum, shows the permanent exhibit at the facility. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World