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McRitchie-Hollis Museum to feature more local history exhibits

  • By Jeffrey Cullen-Dean
  • |
  • Jul. 20, 2021 - 4:51 PM

McRitchie-Hollis Museum to feature more local history exhibits

Jeffrey Cullen-Dean / The Newnan Times-Herald

Noelle-Hagen Atwood, left, and Emily Kimbell show off the new displays containing letters and collected objects at the McRitchie-Hollis Museum in Newnan.

The McRitchie-Hollis Museum in Newnan expects some changes over the next few years.

The museum is transitioning from a 1930s furniture display to housing exhibits on the history of Newnan and Coweta County, said Emily Kimbell, director of the museum.

"We've changed our way of thinking, and based on research and the needs of the county, which is to have a place where people can come learn about the town and the city, we've started installing permanent exhibits where people came from and people important to the development of the county," she said.

According to Kimbell, furniture museums don't typically do well unless they were owned or had a connection to someone famous.

But the feeling of the museum will not be going away, Kimbell said. The new exhibits will take advantage of the rooms in the house, and the furniture will be moved to the museum's collection storage.

"It'll be a museum that is still obviously housed in a home and we want it to remain very homey," she said.

The first room to transform into exhibit space was the home's breakfast room. It now displays items from collections donated by Newnan and Coweta residents to the museum as a way of introducing visitors to local residents.

Among the donated items is a collection of more than 500 hats from Rep. Lynn Smith, according to Noelle-Hagen Atwood, curator at the museum.

The room also currently features an exhibit on the 50th anniversary of Powers Crossroads.

"We have a plan in place to identify other collectors and take in applications for local collectors or to identify local collections to display them," Kimbell said. "We're open to anything — quilts, art — quite honestly anything could be interesting if there's an interesting story with it or somebody is very passionate about it and knows where it came from, how it came here and why they got it."

The second space to be converted was a book inventory closet, which is now a small space dedicated to Margaret Trapnell Glover and is made with letters she wrote and paraphernalia from her time in school.

"It's recreating what her dorm may have looked like while she was studying," Kimbell said.

On the wall next to the closet is a space detailing College Temple, an all-women's school in the 1800s in Newnan.

According to Kimbell, by the end of the year, the powder room nearby will be turned into an exhibit on women working in Coweta, so that section of the house will focus on Coweta women's history.

"Newnan and Coweta County have a relatively unknown, but pretty early, history with women's education … when women in the South started going to college. Newnan and Coweta County were fairly in the forefront of that," she said.

The home's lobby will be redone as an introduction to the house, its history and the people who lived there, Kimbell said. Along with the powder room, the lobby will become an exhibit space by the end of the year.

The kitchen will remain mostly the same, but will focus on education on agriculture and farm-to-table meals. An exhibit on millwork will inhabit the study. Both of the rooms will transition into exhibit spaces next year, according to Kimbell.

Kimbell said the dining room and living room are expected to become exhibit spaces in 2023. They will focus on Newnan's role in the Civil War and the founding of the county.

"My goal, from the time you park to the time you leave, is for everything to be an exhibit," Kimbell said.