Dover Public Library partners with area museums


DOVER — Dover may not be a major metropolis, but for fans of history it has more to offer than one might think.

There’s no Smithsonian or Museum Of Modern Art, but hidden gems abound, from the First State Heritage Park to the Biggs Museum to the Air Mobility Command Museum.

Those attractions were on display Saturday at the Dover Library’s first Museum Fair, an event that might be more than just a one-off.

“We’ve been looking for ways in the library to reach out to our community and to become partners with our institutions in our community,” said Dover librarian Tyler Antoine, the event organizer, “and this seemed like a great opportunity for us to reach out and let everybody represent themselves and let people know, especially in these times, that the idea of community and the idea of information literacy is super important and that knowledge is power and the best way to learn is to have fun doing it.

“People start learning when they start having fun, which is why museums and libraries make great informational partners.”

A half-dozen tables were set up in the library with displays from the AMC Museum, State Police Museum, Biggs Museum, Johnson Victrola Museum and First State Heritage Park.

Visitors had the chance to learn more about the museums from the pamphlets and other pieces of information sitting on the tables, while children could also take part in some kid-friendly activities.

At the Biggs Museum’s table, children painted, while at First State Heritage Park displays they could write with a quill pen or play colonial games.

Sonja McRant, of Smyrna, brought her 6-year-old daughter, Kloei, on Saturday after hearing about the event when she visited the library during the week.

Ms. McRant, who has not been to any of Kent County’s museums yet, watched as Kloei and a friend played the game of graces, which involves tossing a hoop and trying to catch it with two sticks.

Across the room, Daniel Washburn and his son, Nathaniel, browsed the AMC Museum table, looking at pictures of the planes on display. Seven-year-old Nathaniel was visibly enthralled as he eagerly looked over the brochures.

Like Ms. McRant, they have not visited the museums but are hoping to do so.

“I mean, we’ve been wanting to, but this is more encouragement, learning about what’s there,” Mr. Washburn, from Hartly, said.

While Dover’s museums offer different things, history lovers in particular can find a lot in tune with their interests.

From getting a glimpse at how early Delawareans lived at the John Bell House to seeing where state lawmakers cast votes at the Old State House, Dover provides a wealth of information on the state’s early days.

Meanwhile, the Delaware State Police Museum has details on the history of the state police and offers a look at old police cars, uniforms and weapons.

The Biggs Museum is home to paintings, furniture and interactive displays, and the Johnson Victrola Museum has one of the world’s largest collections of phonograph records, dating back to the first years of the 1900s.

At the AMC Museum, 31 airplanes are on display, and on the third Saturday of the month from March to October, they are all open to visitors.

If you are looking for something to do and have never been before, museum volunteers at the library Saturday said, why not stop by some of the sites?

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