Museum Celebrates 40th Birthday!,
Wednesday, February 18th Regular Hours
In honor of the Museum's 40th birthday, all visitors will be treated to some light refreshments and will receive free admission all day. FREE Admission.
On February 18, 1969 Madison locals, Edgar and Agnes Land (seen below) filed the Articles of Incorporation for a new history museum to be named the Museum of Early Trades & Crafts. Using their personal collection of over 3,500 18th and 19th century artifacts, the Lands worked to create a museum that interpreted what life was like for the everyday Early American. They strongly felt this aspect of history was not being adequately addressed by other Museums and wanted to preserve the quickly vanishing history of the farmers, artisans and crafts people who settled in New Jersey during the Colonial era.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the Lands, as a hobby, collected handcrafted items, tools and products from pre-industrial New Jersey. Their collection quickly grew to number thousands of objects and they invited school groups to visit their home and tour their collection. They soon approached the Borough of Madison to request the use of the James Library building as the new home of their Museum. The Lands were granted their request and with the help of family and friends got to work.
The original look of the Museum was almost barn-like. The tile walls were paneled over with wood and numerous nooks and coves were built into interpretive spaces, such as an Early American kitchen, a schoolhouse and a cabinetmaker shop (seen above, right). Exhibit space was even created using the original library stacks (seen above, left).
When the Museum officially opened its doors to the public in 1970, visitors were treated to a unique museum experience. Edgar Land served as the Museum's first director until 1986. His wife Agnes also served as Museum Director for a number of years. As it does today, the Museum offered visitors and school groups a large variety of programs.
In 1993 the Museum began a Capital Endowment Campaign to renovate the building, make it handicap accessible and create new exhibits for the ever-growing collection. In 1996 the Museum closed to the public for renovations. The James Library was brought back to its original look–the look you see today–and in 1997 the Museum officially reopened to the public, now with permanent exhibits and an area for changing ones, in addition to a classroom space and a Museum shop.
Today the Museum is host to over 7,000 school children and over 3,000 visitors a year. It continues with the Lands' vision of educating the community about the past and preserving it for the future.
To celebrate this milestone, the Museum will offer free admission and refreshments all day on Wednesday, February 18th.
The Museum of Early Trades & Crafts is located at 9 Main Street in the heart of downtown Madison, just two blocks from the Madison train station. For information, please call 973-377-2982 x10 or visit our website at www.metc.org.
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