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August 9, 2022 - 4:02pm

Director reports that Holland Land Office Museum is on the upswing in terms of attendance, membership

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Things are looking up for the Holland Land Office Museum at 131 West Main St., the Genesee County-supported facility dedicated to highlighting the events and people that have contributed to the region’s rich history.

Membership in the museum, which is managed by the board of directors of the Holland Purchase Historical Society, is nearing 250 and attendance since last July has surpassed the 3,000 mark.

Those benchmarks alone, says Executive Director Ryan Duffy, indicate that the museum definitely has bounced back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duffy and Don Burkel, HLOM board president, presented their yearly report on Monday at the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee meeting.

“Our membership topped 200 for 2021 for the first time in quite a few years and we’re 90 percent to that number this year,” Duffy said. “Our goal (for 2022) is 250 and we’re 75 percent to that.”

He said the museum is attracting more international visitors – especially from The Netherlands (due to this area being a Dutch settlement) – while the recording of its guest speaker series is getting hundreds of views on YouTube.

Duffy also mentioned the restarting of the History Heroes program this summer, which brought around 27 young people to the museum, and that the Wonderland of Trees was the museum’s biggest yet in terms of visitors and sponsors.

Volunteer support is crucial to the museum’s success, he noted, and was glad to report that 17 people donate their time on a regular basis.

“Volunteers, docents and interns completed more than 1,500 hours of community service up to this date,” he reported, adding that attendance and gift shop sales have returned to pre-2020 levels.

Going forward, Duffy said directors are in the early stages of obtaining a design for a new entrance off the West Wing of the building “to create a more welcoming and efficient entry” that would be Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant. Additionally, this space would be utilized for the relocation of the gift shop and a larger space for the research library.

“This will be a better spot for the gift shop, hopefully generating double the annual revenue, and we would gain exhibit space (by utilizing the area currently occupied by the gift shop),” he advised.

The museum also has initiated the Garth Swanson Memorial Scholarship, which will be available to students in 2023, Duffy said.

The scholarship will benefit current high school students planning to attend Genesee Community College or students attending GCC currently with a passion for history. It is in honor of Garth Swanson, a longtime board member and patron of the museum who passed away in early 2022.

The Holland Land Office Museum is currently operating under normal, yearlong hours. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. For more information, call 585-343-4727.

Photo: Don Burkel, left, and Ryan Duffy, representing the Holland Land Office Museum, talked about the museum's activities over the past year at Monday's County Legislature Human Services Committee meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

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