Belle Glade museum reopens Saturday

At long last the space inside the former Belle Glade library has taken shape. Under the careful supervision and work of Linda Geary and a few volunteers, the Lawrence E. Will Museum is just about ready to play host to audiences around the Lake Okeechobee area.

On Saturday, the museum, which had been closed indefinitely following the library’s move to a new location, will be opening free of charge to the public. According to Ms. Geary, the opening coincides with the museum’s receiving a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian.

‘The Way We Worked’ is based on photographs from the National Archives depicting scenes of a younger America at work, America at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the gamut between. The local museum is honored to be hosting the exhibit, explained Ms. Geary.

“It’s exciting,” the museum curator said, speaking on almost double terms about the exhibition and the progress inside the museum itself. “It’s come a long way, and we have a long ways to go.”

For many months the space at the building was nearly entirely vacant, with Ms. Geary and volunteers focusing almost all of their work on cataloguing items housed in the northernmost section of the old library. Even today, there is much more work to be carried out, but at least Ms. Geary can be content with having made the timeline to open in time for the exhibit, which will be in Belle Glade from May 23 to July 4.

The public is invited to come out for the opening of the exhibit, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Following the opening day, the museum will remain open from Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum will make its curator available on Mondays and Tuesdays to local schools and other presentations.

On Tuesday morning, Ms. Geary eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Smithsonian exhibit. The inside of the museum looked nearly complete minus the exhibit. At the entrance an Ann Tyler mural greets visitors. Ms. Geary explained how the mural was taken down piece by piece and reconstructed, with the artist coming in personally to do touch up work on it, in order for it to be installed at the entrance.

Other items on display tell the story of the Glades area, all the way from Kissimmee south. Former museum curators, including Lawrence E. Will and Dr. Joseph Orsenigo, and the artifacts and items they donated to the museum, are featured.

Leading up to the opening, a local Boy Scout troop went door to door leaving flyers about the museum opening at residents’ homes. Ms. Geary is hopeful for a good turnout, and invites the public to attend. All ages are invited.

“It tells the local history, which is important and different from the east coast history that people are used to,” said Ms. Geary. “People should be proud of it.”

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