“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.
Dr. Rebecca Dungan has cast her vote in this election year for an ever-growing and vibrant historical museum in Granville, Ohio.
As program chair on the Robbins Hunter Board of Trustees, she shares her educational skills and creative talents with as many visitors to the museum as possible through research-based educational programming. In so doing, she is committed to cementing the value of the museum in the local and broader community.
“I define myself by teaching,” she says. And that declaration is solidly research driven for Becky when she references the mission; “to inspire appreciation and understanding of the architecturally significant Avery-Downer House, its collections, and the stories of those who lived there.”
On September 15, for example, William Heyer, noted classical architect of the newly dedicated Tina and Dale Knobel Folly, will engage visitors in “An Architectural Evening at the Avery Downer House.” And a month later on October 14th she will orchestrate the popular Scarecrow Invasion now in its second year. This collaboration with Welsh Hills School, to install student-made scarecrows – this year with a presidential theme – on the front and side lawns of the museum, is an opportunity for students to have an authentic audience for their research and creative efforts. Inside the museum, Halloween decorations and feature related activities kick off on October 1.
And to wrap up the year, Glorious Christmas with lavish decorations, eight theme-based Christmas trees and Nights Before Christmas tours will celebrate the holiday season. Tours during this period are on December 8, 15, 22, and 29.
All in all, Becky’s one goal is to get people to engage in participatory experiences that invite interaction and discussion and promote knowing and appreciation as they hear the story of everyday life in this house.
Becky, who lives in Granville, earned her BA and MA at Michigan State University and a PhD at OSU in reading and language arts. She did a post doc at City University of London. “I am well versed in creativity,” she says and in her career she received a $100,000 grant from the State of Ohio to study creative problem solving. She has taught teachers processes to implement creative problem solving in their classrooms which provides them the tools to identify creatively gifted children. “I solve problems whether they need it or not,” she laughs.
Becky retired from Hilliard City Schools where she was director of Gifted Education and Professional Development. “My job was to help teachers stay abreast of and implement current research and best practice in teaching and learning and to serve gifted children in the best way possible.”
“Research based decision making is what I do,” she says. “I stay current with research in the field so that our docents have access to information and strategies to make the visitor experience memorable.” RHM is following best practices and Dungan looks forward to consulting with museum volunteers to discuss possible implementation of other ideas from her reading.
She recently read a new book, An Anarchists Guide to Historic House Museums by Vagnone and Ryan. “The book challenges us to think differently about our house tour, to challenge conventional procedures, to put visitors first, and to take risks.” she says. Becky was pleased to find that in many areas, RHM is following best practices and she is looking at implementing other ideas from her reading.
When Becky isn’t volunteering at the museum, she likes to travel and pursue her own learning adventure. Last summer she took the Queen Mary 2 to England. On the way, the group studied British mystery writers. “After arrival we spent time in Oxford and the English countryside visiting sites related to these writers,” she said.
In May 2017 she takes off for another learning adventure, this time to study code breaking during WWII, a subject on which she has long had an interest.
Becky defines herself as a teacher and learner and that is no more apparent than in the quality programming that is bringing more and more visitors to the museum. “We develop our tours as a community of volunteers, working together to implement new ideas and content in order to help visitors step into the past to experience the way a family lived,” she said.
“I am very proud of how we do that."
The board of the Robbins Hunter Museum consists of 15 community volunteers. Each board member brings time and passion to their seat. Read on to find out about two new members.
New members join RHM Board
Dr. Judith Dann
Judith lives in Homer, Ohio, and is a professor of ancient history at Columbus State. She came to the attention of the board through her lectures on Victoria Woodhull, a native of Homer and noted as the first woman to run for president of the United States. “The Victoria Woodhull memorial at the museum is extremely significant to me,” she says. “This memorial stands at the only official memorial to one of the most influential and significant figures in American history. This is an absolute treasure.”
“RHM is a priceless time capsule of mid-19th century America and also of the early society in Granville. I believe that a museum like this one is absolutely crucial to maintain so that community residents (and beyond) can come to learn and appreciate the history of our country,” she said.
Judith hopes her lifelong love of historical homes and museums will find a place here to bloom. “The clock tower remains my greatest interest and I am humbled and honored to be able to promote and preserve it in whatever way I can.”
Judith attended her first board meeting on August 12.
Christina lives in Granville and also attended her first board meeting on August 12. Interestingly, she moved to the area with her parents in 1974 but then promptly went off to college at Vassar and began her career after graduation, never having lived here until she returned ten years ago to assist her aging parents.
Christina has retired from her occupation and passion of 35 years of training dressage horses and riders. She saw her sport as the Cinderella of the American international riding sport, but one that was far out shadowed by show jumping and three-day eventing. “So I worked as a volunteer with the U.S. Equestrian Team, helping to raise money for the dressage team and its programs.” This included identifying sponsors who could become major donors to the USET and developing a feature event for the Team, the Festival of Champions. “The absolute highlight of this venture was the dressage team winning its first team medal in Barcelona in 1992, the first since 1976.
Christina hopes to bring her experiences in coping with challenging fund-raising conditions of all types. “I well understand the relationship between strong marketing and branding to the intricacies of revenue stream as well as how to cultivate individuals who can be assets for the museum’s growth,” she said.
“What I sense is a chain of ideas – from Robbins Hunter, Jr. until today. That is what needs to be built upon.”