For Venice Museum and Archives, Legacy of Valor means expanding partnerships and gaining momentum

For Venice Museum and Archives, Legacy of Valor means expanding partnerships and gaining momentum

Posted on August 28, 2013 by Michelle Harm

Editor's Note: Michelle Harm is the collections manager for the Venice Museum and Archives, a Legacy of Valor partner. Through November, the museum will feature an exhibit of military uniforms and memorabilia honoring the Kentucky Military Institute's heritage in Venice. 

Partnering with Legacy of Valor has given our museum the momentum we needed to seek out other partnerships and to turn a regular exhibit into an opportunity to reach out to our local, state and national community. Building upon these connections makes us better at what we do and enhances our impact.

When we first learned about the Legacy of Valor campaign, we were within a few short months of installing our newest exhibit on the Kentucky Military Institute (KMI). The KMI faculty, students and staff spent their winter sessions in Venice from 1933 to 1970 and the KMI had an incredible legacy of military veterans from every American conflict from the Civil War to Desert Storm. The themes of our exhibit seemed to tie in perfectly with the Legacy of Valor goals of honoring veterans, inspiring patriotism and embracing freedom. We were excited to be one of the first partners, debuting our exhibit in April and only good things have followed.

Smithsonian Magazine and Blue Star Museum Partnerships

The Kentucky Military Institute Alumni Organization held its reunion in Venice shortly after our exhibit opened. Hundreds of KMI graduates visited the museum and as a result, 15 alumni donated over 120 KMI items to our collection. The popularity of this exhibit, not only with KMI alumni but also with the general public inspired us to extend the exhibition period from 30 days open to the public to over 100 days.

This extension has allowed us to partner with Smithsonian Magazine. In the spirit of Smithsonian Museums, who offer free admission every day, Museum Day Live! is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian Magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket for free. The Venice Museum and Archives will participate in this year’s Museum Day Live! event on Saturday, September 28. Although the VMA is always free, being open on a Saturday will hopefully bring in new and repeat visitors for this special, national-wide event.

We are also partnering with Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to all active duty military personnel including National Guard and Reserve and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day, September 2, 2013.

At a state-wide level, we are partnering with Viva Florida 500. The State of Florida launched an 18-month commemoration honoring Florida's rich heritage and diverse cultural history through the upcoming landmark year. The KMI exhibit is a great way to celebrate our town’s history and to join other cities throughout the state highlighting their unique history to Florida.

Locally, our exhibit extension will allow us to collaborate with ParkerLane and its upcoming documentary on the Kentucky Military Institute. Plans are in the works for the film to premiere in Florida at the Venice Theatre this fall and possibly air on a local PBS station.

This red carpet event will be a great way to close our exhibit with one final, big event. The ParkerLane team has been an enthusiastic supporter of our KMI exhibit and donated time to create a special short film for our exhibit that highlights KMI alumni who were veterans of World War II and the war’s impact on Venice. The topic of the exhibit film was a direct result of the Legacy of Valor partnership.

We are working with the Venice Centre Mall (previously the San Marco Hotel and KMI campus building) to improve its permanent KMI display. We will be incorporating educational components from the VMA’s exhibit, which creates an opportunity for us to provide community outreach beyond our museum.

As we approach the final months of our exhibit, we will continue to seek out other ways we can work with organizations to connect our projects and goals together. The success of this model has given us a roadmap for our future endeavors and the possibilities seem endless. Thank you Legacy of Valor for being an inspiring facilitator and friend to the Venice Museum and Archives!

To learn more, please contact Michelle Harm or James Hagler; 941-486-2487

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