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Texas County Museum of Art and History


Photo by Christy Porter
The unique, vintage museum sign and lights before removal for the new signage.

By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

   The Texas County Museum of Art and History located on Main Street in Licking is truly a treasure trove of priceless art, historical archives and resources. During its season it is a busy location for ongoing activities, teaching and learning opportunities.
   Mr. Ron Rennick, a local native of Licking, set up the Texas County Museum of Art and History as a non- profit organization in 2003. A six-member board was elected with John Hood as board president. Soon after, retired art teacher Ellen Reynolds was hired as curator and administrator.
Reynolds immediately began researching how to start and administer a museum before the opening scheduled for March of 2004.
   At the end of 2003 Rennick, who resided in Florida, delivered a large donation to Licking. It contained, among other items, a sizeable collection of Indian artifacts. Reynolds recalls, “It was the early winter of 2004 when Dr. Dan Hatch met with me to discuss the dating and information on the Indian collection. As the building is not well-suited to efficiently heat during the winter, it was very cold.” This is also the reason the museum closes for the winter months of December through February.
   The museum indeed opened in March 2004 and has continued to open the first Monday in March for fifteen consecutive years.
   “Ron Rennick is so supportive of the TCM, not only with new art acquisitions, but also financially on a regular monthly basis. He pays all utility bills except the telephone,” says Ellen Reynolds. The board allocates the funds to pay the telephone bill, insurance and the curator/administrative salary. The funds are provided through fundraisers and a membership of approximately 35 patrons. However you do not have to be a member to visit the museum or participate in any of their events. They welcome everyone who comes through the door. Admittance is always free.
   It is a busy place for being open only on Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., each week March through November. Special events may be held on other days of the week.
   The Annual Open House is held in March, welcoming patrons and visitors back for the season. There is a different, fun and oftentimes reminiscent theme each year.
   They offer a diverse selection of art and craft workshops for nominal fees, by highly skilled artists. Students of these classes finish with a completed project. Approximately 20 workshops are held each year.
   All artists are welcome to create in various mediums on Tuesday afternoons at the open studio. Some of these local artists are also participants of the Current River Artists, who sell their handmade items at the museum. It’s a great place to shop for unique and locally made treasures.
   The Friends of the Licking Library have been great partners at the Book Nook, which is located within the museum facility in a rear room. This is a great resource for multi interest reading material for all age groups. A monetary donation purchases your selections and book donations in good shape are accepted for restocking the shelves. The Book Nook also sponsors a new book giveaway for the young people of the community at the December Christmas festivities.
   Licking RVIII, Raymondville and the State Schools, as well as several senior church groups visit the museum on field trips. To schedule a field trip, one only needs to call the museum to set it up.
The written word is celebrated at TCM with many book signings haven taken place there. Such writers and talents include, in no specific order, Aya Katz, Chris Link, Dave Barnes, Sophia DeLaat, Ryan Stone and Marie Lasater.
   A Tai Chi group led by David Keymann is held on Monday afternoons.
   Volunteers provide invaluable help, especially Sandy Campbell, our Acquisition Officer. She’s always willing to participate in the numerous events, before, during and after. However all volunteers are welcome and appreciated.

Photo Submitted
The original Texas County Museum sign
being hung by city workers in 2004.
    
   Fundraisers are essential, fun and inventive. Yearly events include the Cookie by the Pound sale at Christmas and the auction of the Licking High School’s graduating class Underground Railroad Quilt. The quilt is made when the students are sixth graders and held until their graduation, then auctioned with all proceeds benefitting the museum.
   Other events have included: silent auctions; Shirts into Aprons, local seamstresses created aprons from shirts donated by area personalities; Painted Cowboy Boots; Birds of a Feather Flock Together, artist creations with a feathered theme; Painted Flowerpots; Repurposed Frames; donated costume jewelry; donated glassware; Christmas decorations and donated, decorated Christmas trees by local organizations. The museum has also held three concerts at the high school gym. Local law enforcement has participated in the fundraising when asked to check and verify the speed of a moving ball with a hand held radar unit for the Fast Pitch Baseball event held in the alley.
   The museum’s sign and lights are currently undergoing a transformation. Larry Ogden along with his helpers removed the sign, while battling bees. Lanie Frick will be designing new vinyl and working with Doug Ashby at Fly Creek to create the new signage which will incorporate the old lights. When the installation is done, Nick Myers will do the electrical work.

   As Ellen Reynolds passes the keys to Gary and Jackie Duncan, incoming administrators, she says, “It is time for new vision and energy at the museum. I’m hoping that there can be more promotion of the museum, via social media and the like, in the future.”


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