By DON STINE
Those visiting the Asbury Park boardwalk will soon be in for a unique experience- the Asbury Park Museum is opening its doors there.
“This is well overdue. Asbury Park is such a unique place and it’s too bad that its history has never been fully-documented,” said Kay Harris, owner of Asbury Galleria on the boardwalk and whose family has deep roots in the city.
“It gives an opportunity for the Asbury Park community to be represented. I have felt for a long time that we needed to share the history of Asbury Park, not just the boardwalk but the whole community, including the West Side. It just wasn’t all about the boardwalk– there is so much more,” she said.
One of the main goals of the museum is to create public awareness and, perhaps, also find it a permanent home. The museum documents the history of Asbury Park from its founding 1871 up to the present day.
“We trace the city’s history, including its ups and downs over the years. We want to increase awareness and hopefully get some support for a more permanent museum,” Harris said.
The 1,400-square-foot museum, at 1200 Ocean Ave., will be loaded with exhibits and artifacts- from legendary local people, to original Asbury Park trolley doors, to loving cups and ribbons from the city’s famous Baby Parades.
Donations made to the museum can be placed in an original Palace Amusements wooden ticket box, which is guarded by Barry, the wooden police officer from the ticket office in the Baronet Theatre. A moveable 1950s-era holiday display from the old Youth Center on Cookman Avenue, showing an elf working on a shoe, will also be on display.
“There will be a lot of unique items, some being seen for the first time. We are still accepting donations” Harris said. And the city’s musical heritage will be a large part of the museum, curated by music historians Charlie and Pam Horner. The displays not only document many performers but also many clubs and venues on the West Side and elsewhere throughout the city.
“This is great news for those who enjoyed seeing our 2015 exhibit on Asbury Park’s West Side Musical Heritage and wondered if it would ever surface again. A big part of this exhibit will be our West Side Music exhibit,” Charlie Horner said. Harris has been working on creating the museum for about a year and a special planning committee has been active for five months.
The Asbury Park Museum is sponsored by the Asbury Galleria, in cooperation with Classic Urban Harmony founders Charlie and Pam Horner, the Asbury Park Historical Society, and the NJ Pan African Chamber of Commerce, based in Asbury Park. Harris said she approached boardwalk redeveloper Madison Marquette with the idea for a museum and, eventually, the company said it could give the space in the Fifth Avenue pavilion until the middle of March. Harris is a boardwalk tenant of Madison Marquette since 2005.
The museum, which is free, will be up and running soon, with a grand opening scheduled for Sat., Dec. 22 from noon to 8 pm. It will then be open Fridays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. and open on Saturdays until 8 p.m. It is hoped that visitors for the annual Light of Day concerts in January will stop by the museum and show their support.
“We hope they appreciate the city better,” Harris said. But the down side is that the museum has to fold up around the middle of March.
“It is a work in progress and our long-term goal is to find a permanent home for the museum,” Harris said. Even though it is a temporary museum, Harris said it is continually being updated and that the Historical Society welcomes any donations, which are tax deductible.
The museum will also include a gift shop with proceeds to help offset expenses.