A pandemic has not stopped Rob Meaux and his volunteers from creating something special for Lake Houston. Days, nights and weekends have been spent unpacking hundreds, maybe thousands of boxes, that will soon help to create the Humble Museum.
“This is a completely new Humble Museum,” Dr. Meaux said. “It will tell the story of Humble and give our visitors a vision of what life was like in Humble.”
The museum has been relocated to the former Charles Bender Band Hall building next to the Charles Bender Performing Arts Center near Historic Downtown Humble. The unpacking is done. It is time to create museum displays that will wow everyone.
“Folks will be so impressed,” Meaux said. “We visited many different museums for inspiration and came up with a design that is much more conducive for displaying our artifacts and for telling the history of Humble.”
The new museum, in Meaux’s kind words, is “much nicer” than the original museum which was located on Main Street until Hurricane Harvey devastated the old building. Additional structural issues made the original museum impractical to repair. The new museum includes two modern, handicapped-designed restrooms, a bigger workplace, and office for the staff to run the museum plus a public research room.
“The lobby, store and Galleries 1 and 2 will be complete by the end of June,” Meaux predicts. “Then we’ll focus on finishing Gallery 3, the big gallery. I’m really excited about the store we’ll have inside the museum selling books and other Humble paraphernalia. These sales will go toward our operating budget. We are especially focused on publishing books about Humble’s history.”
One of the books that will be on sale is “The Old Humble Cemetery,” which Meaux co-authored with Margaret Byron, reared in Humble and a graduate of Charles Bender High School.
Besides putting the thousands of artifacts in order, Meaux also is reconfiguring how the museum will operate.
“The museum is still run by the Humble Museum board of directors,” he said, “but we also created The Humble Museum Foundation with its own board of directors. The foundation, which is chaired by Tribune owner Cynthia Calvert, will help fundraise through public relations and will improve the museum’s presence and relations with our community.”
The foundation includes an advisory board.
“We’d like members of the public to become friends of the museum,” Meaux said. “Our goal is to get more of Lake Houston involved with the museum.”
Quite a few residents already have become involved.
“We’re building everything new,” Meaux said. “Thanks to people like Lee Kendrick of Lamp Monkey, Darryal Chandler of Minuteman Press, Dr. Chris Davis of Lone Star College-Kingwood, and our graphic artist, Ken Burke, we’re designing new displays that can be ‘rebuilt’ every three to six months so that, each time someone visits, they’ll see something new.”
Also working to create the new museum is Ashley Oakes, who is completing a master’s degree in history from American Public University. She spent the last 16 weeks helping with inventory and building displays.
Meaux said that the Humble Museum would not exist without the support of the City of Humble.
“The city invested in the renovation of the building and helped us meet our goals,” he said. “The mayor, city council, city manager, city secretary and so many city employees got us to this moment when we’re almost ready to open.”
The museum is one of three components of Meaux’s plan to revitalize interest in Humble’s history. The other two are a walking tour of Humble’s Historic Downtown and the McKay Medical Museum.
“The Walking Tour is a free website, just like an app, you can pull up on your phone,” he explained. “It can be used to walk through downtown to see the history of the buildings, including photos of the same buildings from the early 1900s. A great way to enjoy Humble’s history outside of the museum.”
The McKay Medical Museum, a block off Main Street on Avenue C, memorializes the clinic of Humble physician and MayorDr. Haden McKay.
Meaux used his skills as a web designer for Humble ISD to create a new webpage for the museum.
“We now have a Facebook page with posts by my wife, Katie,” Meaux said, “and I’m looking for volunteers who can help us create Twitter and Instagram feeds and keep the Facebook page updated.”
He soon will recruit docents, volunteers willing to donate time to work in the museum. The focus, though, is rebuilding the exhibit and organizing a grand opening sometime this summer.
To donate — cash, artifacts, items, photos or documents — contact the museum once it opens. Contact information is on the website which is humblemuseum.com.