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Carson Valley museum gets new director

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

Cindy Southerland has been lured back to the Carson Valley museum. Was it the money? The fame?

No, she says, it was the atmosphere of this little museum housed in an old school that made her want to become its director.

“I left the position (as curator of collections) mainly because of health reasons. I’ve always enjoyed working here. I have a real deep interest in the community. It was like coming home. I knew the people and I knew the collection. It was just all very familiar,” she said.

Southerland left the curator of collections position in April. The museum hasn’t had a director in name for about 1-1/2 years, although two volunteers, Liz Paul and Hollie Giottonini, had covered the administrative duties in that time. Since Southerland left, she has been involved in historic preservation projects in Carson City. Through a grant from the Smithsonian, she has been working to preserve outdoor sculptures. Carson City is where she lives with her husband, Doug Southerland.

As director, Southerland said she will be responsible for the overall operation of the museum, developing a docent and volunteer program and representing the museum at conferences and seminars.

Southerland, who worked with the state before getting a degree in history and museology from UNR, said she had administrative experience before, and enjoys the work, but hopes to still have a finger in a few other pies.

“I think I will be able to still participate in some other areas. I still can make a contribution,” she said.

In addition, Southerland said she will closely follow the upcoming Legislative session and serve as the museum’s lobbyist for any issues that affect the museum, such as room taxes that often are given to museums. She said she also hopes to build a relationship with the county government.

The museum is always looking for volunteers, she said. Docents are volunteers who lead tours and give information, but there are also other positions where shy volunteers can work.

“We are always in need of people to work behind the scenes with the curator to file records, to do maintenance and updating and computer entry – and there is always the gift shop. We also have a plan to approach the high school and college to ask for interns to do copying and records and newspaper clipping,” Southerland said.

Southerland invites the public to the museum’s annual Christmas tree decoration contest “The Gallery of Trees” and open house sponsored by the Carson Valley Historical Society.

Members of the public can vote on their favorite tree. The open house will be held Dec. 3. Refreshments will be served and holiday music will be provided by the Trinity Lutheran Church Choir. The favorite tree will be announced at 3 p.m.

Dec. 3 is also the day the new exhibit on mining will open, Southerland said.