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  • Honoring the Centennial of the Morris Museum

    by Representative Rodney P. Frelinghuysen

    Posted on 2013-02-05

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    FRELINGHUYSEN of new jersey in the house of representatives Tuesday, February 5, 2013 Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the Morris Museum in Morris County, New Jersey, which is celebrating its Centennial in 2013.

    The Morris Museum began as a small exhibit in the Morristown Neighborhood House located on Flagler Street in Morristown. With the collections rapidly growing, by 1927 the exhibit had encompassed seven rooms. At this time the exhibit contained 19th century articles, European and Asian artifacts, along with rocks, minerals, and fossils. Looking to expand to a larger venue, the exhibit moved to the Maple Avenue School and stayed until 1956 where it was officially incorporated in 1946. This venue enabled the Morris Museum to create better programs for children and coordinate these programs with the curriculum being taught in surrounding schools. These programs included use of dioramas, panels, and an outreach program centered on Native American civilization.

    Having expanded out of its four prior locations, in 1964 the museum moved to its current location at the historic Twin Oaks Mansion, formally owned by the Frelinghuysen family. This gave the organization the opportunity to expand programs to all ages and add to its visual art exhibits. By 1970, the gallery was enlarged significantly through facility additions and the 312 seat Bickford Theatre was added. The museum received the prestigious honor, in 1973, of being the first New Jersey museum to be recognized by the American Association of Museums. Finally, by 1990 the name had been changed to the current title of the Morris Museum and had expanded to a total of 75,524 square feet.

    The Morris Museum mission has continuously been, ``to elevate the cultural consciousness, excite the mind and enhance the quality of life by advancing the understanding and enjoyment of the visual and performing arts, natural and physical sciences and humanities.'' It does this through state-of-the-art programs it provides to the public. Such programs include Tot Tours and ArtWALK, are designed to instill an early love for art in toddlers and their caregivers, as well as the ``Museum Loan Program,'' which lends over 1,400 exhibit kits to schools, libraries, and district organizations. The Morris Museum also provides an excellent Transportation Program designed to transport children in underprivileged areas, such as Newark, Elizabeth, Jersey City, and Dover, to view the galleries and participate in hands-on activities. Adults can also benefit through the Adult Outreach Programs, which include Adult Tour Programs and Senior Fridays aimed at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Services include exhibition tours, appealing discussions, and free refreshments.

    Today, the museum possesses an average attendance of 438,000 visitors per year and contains a diverse assembly of people from 15 counties and different socio-economic and ethnic groups. Permanent displays include geology, animals, model railroads, historical crafts, pottery, carving, basketry, and textiles of all cultural backgrounds. In addition to these displays is the exhibition of 150 pieces from the expansive and world renowned Murtogh D. Guinness collection of mechanical musical instruments and automata. The Museum also includes natural science, paleontology, and anthropology exhibits for those interested in expanding their scholastic knowledge.

    As of 2012, The Morris Museum has won numerous awards such as an award for Excellence in Tourism by the Department of Travel and Tourism, Outstanding Arts Organization by the Arts Council of the Morris Area, and has been recognized by the NJSCA as a Major Arts Institution for the past seven years in a row. Identified as a major influence on society, the museum has clearly exemplified the arts in a positive manner throughout its lifetime.

    Mr. Speaker, I ask you and your colleagues to join me in congratulating the Morris Museum as it celebrates its Centennial.


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