Saturday, July 20, 2024

LSUS Foundation takes over Spring Street Historical Museum

by BIZ Magazine

The LSUS Foundation is taking over operation of the Spring Street Historical Museum on behalf of LSU Shreveport.

The Spring Street Museum will complement other LSUS resources that support arts and culture. This includes the LSUS Northwest Louisiana Archives; the Noel Collection, the largest private collection of antiquarian books in the United States; the Pioneer Heritage Center; and LSUS Red River Radio.

This fall, the university will begin operating new academic programs through the Spring Street Museum, including internships for history students and a digital arts class using the museum’s collection. Plans also include creation of a certificate program in museum studies. Faculty and community advisory boards will help develop these programs.

Located in Shreveport’s oldest building, the museum is a cultural crown jewel. The Shreveport Committee of the National Society of Colonial Dames in Louisiana opened the museum in 1976 to preserve and showcase the city’s history. The building, dating back to 1861, is a former bank that features the original vault and woodwork. The Colonial Dames were instrumental in having the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Colonial Dames created the museum as a bicentennial gift, and we have overseen the running of it for the past 43 years, but times change,” said Susan Hardtner, a member of the Colonial Dames chapter that founded the museum.  “We feel very strongly that to continue as a legitimate museum, it needed more than volunteer leadership, so we are absolutely thrilled that the LSUS Foundation has seen fit to receive the building and collection for the use of the university.”

In June, the LSU Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the transfer of the museum and related assets and related property to LSUS Realty, LLC, a single-member limited liability company with the LSUS Foundation as its sole member.”

The museum will retain its two part-time employees and a corps of dedicated volunteers. The Friends of the Spring Street Museum group will continue operating to support the museum.

The state of Louisiana owned and operated the museum from 2010 to 2017, investing more than $200,000 in renovations and improvements during that time. The Friends of the Spring Street Museum took over operations in 2017 after the state relinquished ownership. In 2018, members of the Colonial Dames looked for a way to secure the museum’s long-term viability. They asked LSUS Chancellor Larry Clark if the university would take over the museum. Clark turned to the LSUS Foundation, which agreed to accept the museum and its contents.

“When Chancellor Larry Clark asked if the foundation would be willing to acquire the Spring Street Museum, we saw this as a unique opportunity to serve the university,” said LSUS Foundation President Steve Yancey. “A significant presence in downtown Shreveport will advance the university’s mission of offering educational excellence to the Shreveport-Bossier region.”

The museum’s large collection of artifacts includes vintage clothing dating back to 1835, antique toys, firearms and swords, plantation records, photographs, antique maps, Persian rugs, and original 18th and 19th century furniture, accessories, and paintings. 

This partnership expands opportunities not only for LSUS students but for elementary, middle and high school students across the region. More than 4,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students who visit the Pioneer Heritage Center each year will now be introduced to the story of Shreveport’s birth as a port city and cultural crossroads.

Dr. Cheryl White, the LSUS academic coordinator for the Spring Street Museum, says the museum and university will complement each other. Dr. White is the Hubert Humphreys Endowed Professor of History at LSUS.

“The Spring Street Museum represents a unique opportunity to merge the LSUS academic efforts directly with the remarkable history and culture of Shreveport and the surrounding area,” said Dr. White. “Through this acquisition, LSUS will be able to provide students and the entire community with creative academic initiatives and university programming that will foster a deeper sense of shared identity.”

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