Museum celebrates 40 years

Published 10:35 pm Friday, November 11, 2016

The Isle of Wight County Museum will celebrate its 40th anniversary next week, and museum director Jennifer England took on a big project to bring in the occasion.

The museum will exhibit 40 artifacts from the area and also have a corresponding book. England was inspired to do the idea from BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum’s project, “A History of the World in 100 Objects.”

“Objects are the original storytellers,” England said.

Email newsletter signup

England said several of the exhibit’s artifacts have been displayed before. However, other items will be taken out of storage for the exhibit.

For the museum’s 25th anniversary, the United States Postal Service set up a mail cancellation station, which issued special stamps of the museum.

The museum also developed a video series, which highlights each of the objects. The videos will be playing at the exhibit.

The artifact collection, which follows a chronological order in the book and the exhibit, begins with a prehistoric fossilized whale vertebra and ends with a piece of the largest ham biscuit in the world.

Among the items on display is P.D. Gwaltney Jr.’s 114-year-old ham — the world’s oldest edible ham. The museum hosted its Pan Ham contest over the summer, which required participants to send in vacation photos including a photo of P.D. Gwaltney Jr. and his famous ham.

Last year’s winning submissions were from Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, from the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho and from the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy.

In the days leading up to the exhibit reception, England said, “there has been a lot of buzz about it” all over social media.

The reception, beginning at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18, is free and open to the public. Ham, peanuts and other refreshments will be provided.

“We feel it’s a great way to commemorate the museum, and we are hoping for 40 more,” England said.