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For years, a collection of historical artifacts lay tucked away and forgotten. Time and improper storage took a toll on many of the items, while other pieces disappeared.
What remains, however, is about to go on display at the Beaufort History Museum at City Hall, thanks to the efforts of a small group of residents.
The museum will celebrate its grand opening May 19 with six weeks of free admission, so visitors can wander through the exhibits that trace the area's history chronologically from the time of early American Indians to modern times.
"This is a work in progress, and it will continue to be a work in progress after it opens," said museum board president Katherine Lang, gesturing Thursday toward display cases filling with artifacts and images being prepared for hanging.
The museum effort started in early 2011, and volunteers worked with preservationists and archeologists to identify and care for the items in the collection. The group is raising money to restore items like a large-wheeled antique bicycle and for digitizing images so originals can be kept in light- and temperature-controlled storage while copies are put on display, Lang said.
"The most valuable part of our collection is probably our documents," she said. "They really tell the story of Beaufort."
The grand opening celebration will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. May 19 at 1911 Boundary St. The museum will be staffed by volunteers, so hours are not set, but Land said it will be open two or three weekdays from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and most Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. Days and times will be updated on the museum website: www.beauforthistorymuseum.com.
For more information or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other news about town:
The 80,000-square-foot building is scheduled to be finished in late 2012 or early 2013, according to hospital spokeswoman Courtney McDermott. LifeFit Wellness Center will be relocated to the building and expanded. Administrative offices that now are spread across the hospital campus and in other parts of Beaufort will be consolidated into the building.