Parade editedCelebrate Labor Day with the Greenbelt Museum! Our plans for Greenbelt’s biggest holiday are well underway and include walking tours, free tours of the Museum house, the Retro Town Fair, and light refreshments after the parade at 10B Crescent.

Saturday, August 30, two walking tours are scheduled. The first tour will leave at 11am from the museum’s historic house at 10B Crescent Road and the second will leave at 1pm. Walking tours are free, but space is limited.

Sunday, August 31, the Museum’s Retro Town Fair returns to Roosevelt Center, just near the Mother and Child Statue. retro town fair form 2014This is your chance to enter flowers, vegetables, baked goods, canned goods, needlework, and sewing into the competition. Entries are accepted from 11am-1pm. Judging takes place from 1pm-3pm, then entries and ribbon winners will be on display from 3pm-5pm. All items must be picked up by 6pm. Download the entry form, retro town fair form 2014

Also on Sunday, August 31, the Museum house is open for tours from 1-5pm (last tour begins at 4:30pm). Or come by to peruse the Museum’s gift shop and pick up and Eleanor or Franklin Roosevelt hand fan!

On Monday, immediately following the parade, come by the Museum house for lemonade and cookies – while supplies last! Take a quick tour, too. The house is open from 11:30am-2pm. For more information about the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival click here.

beach photo

Carr’s Beach, Annapolis, MD c. 1940s. Used with permission from the Lakeland Community Heritage Project. This photo appears in their book, Lakeland: African Americans in College Park. Please do not use without permission from the LCHP.

Join us Tuesday, July 15th at 7:30pm, for the next Museum lecture, a film screening and panel discussion exploring the history of Maryland’s segregated beaches. In their heyday, Carr’s and Sparrow’s Beaches, in the Annapolis area, hosted the likes of Louis Armstrong, James Brown and many, many others. We’ll screen, “Music to Our Ears: The Sounds of the African American Experience at Carr’s and Sparrow’s Beaches,” and welcome several members of the Lakeland Community Heritage Project (LCHP), who remember going to the beaches, for a panel discussion. Also learn about a fun beach day event that the LCHP is planning in August. This photo is used courtesy of the LCHP and is one of the many photos in their book, Lakeland: African American in College Park.  For more online information about the beaches, click here and here.  Lectures are sponsored by the Friends of the Greenbelt Museum, are free and open to the public and are held in the Greenbelt Community Center, Room 201, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt Maryland. Many, many thanks to Mary Corbin Sies for her help in planning this lecture.

The Lakeland Community Heritage Project is inviting neighbors along the Route One Corridor to join them for a Route One Corridor Heritage Celebration: A Beach Day 2014. The event will take place Saturday, August 23, 2014, 12 noon to 3pm at Sandy Point State Park, 1100 East College Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21409. The LCHP has reserved a picnic shelter. Ask at the park entrance for the Lakeland group and they will direct you. For more information, please contact the LCHP.

photo Flattr thisAfter a wildly popular inaugural year, the Greenbelt Museum’s Roosevelt Ride returns on Sunday, June 1st at 11:00am on the front lawn of the Greenbelt Community Center, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt, Maryland. The bicycle ride is FREE!

Please join us for a bike ride around Old Greenbelt. Consider donning vintage clothes and bringing a vintage bike (vintage optional). Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy afterwards – or pick up something from the Greenbelt Farmer’s Market. Our friends from Proteus Bicycles will be there to help with simple bike repairs and will provide some snacks. Roosevelt Ride 05.26.13

Thanks so much to our sponsors Maryland Milestones and Proteus Bicycles

In the event of rain, the event will be cancelled. For updates, please call the Museum office at 301-507-6582.

Lenore Thomas Straus at work on one of the bas reliefs that she sculpted for the New Deal project, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Lenore Thomas Straus at work on one of the bas reliefs that she sculpted for the New Deal project, Greenbelt, Maryland.

The next museum exhibition, The Knowing Hands That Carve This Stone: The New Deal Art of Lenore Thomas Straus, is scheduled to open in Greenbelt in early 2015. Thomas Straus was a young woman only in her twenties when she carved several landmark works throughout downtown Greenbelt, Maryland for the Resettlement Administration in the late 1930s. These sculptures include the seminal pieces “Mother and Child” (c.1939), which is the centerpiece of Greenbelt’s historic Roosevelt Center, a series of bas reliefs (c.1936-1937) depicting the Preamble to the United States Constitution, which were carved in place on the front of the Greenbelt Community Center (formerly Center School), and the Woman sculpture, also in front of the Community Center. In addition to these works, Straus carved large scale animals for the playground of Langston Terrace, a New Deal-era apartment complex in Washington, D.C.

A large portion of Thomas Straus’ work was completed at her studio in Accokeek, Maryland where she and her husband, Robert Straus, lived for several decades and where they became friends with Alice and Henry Ferguson. “Although Thomas Straus was an accomplished artist,” says Megan Searing Young, Director of the Greenbelt Museum and curator of the upcoming exhibition, “she has not yet been studied extensively. This exhibition and its accompanying programming will identify and promote her work, provide new insights into her life and connections with both Greenbelt and Accokeek, and offer an opportunity for those interested in local history, WPA and New Deal art, and women artists to learn more about her and the New Deal era in which she thrived.” If you have knowledge of Thomas Straus and/or of her work, please contact us at greenbeltmuseum@gmail.com.

"Men coming to work at Greenbelt." Carl Mydans, July 1936. Library of Congress. The badges they are wearing denote whether each man was a skilled or unskilled worker.

“Men coming to work at Greenbelt.” Carl Mydans, July 1936. Library of Congress. The badges they are wearing denote whether each man was a skilled or unskilled worker.

Recent conversations in the media about Black History Month have been thought-provoking. See this article, for instance, about whether or not our country still needs a Black History Month. Here at the Greenbelt Museum, however, we believe we absolutely do, because despite the town’s many other progressive and experimental elements, Greenbelt began in 1937 as a segregated community. I began work here in 2007 and more than once since then have been asked why we speak to museum visitors about Greenbelt’s segregated history, “They (African Americans) weren’t here, so they aren’t really part of the story.” To which I have repeated that this part of the community’s history is even more important as a result of that fact. The omission of an entire group of people and the reasons why are, indeed, a very big part of the story.

African American workers labored alongside white workers in the construction of  Greenbelt in 1936 and 1937. One can only imagine their frustration at not being able, then, to actually apply for housing here. And to the best of our knowledge, Greenbelt did not begin to become more diverse until the late 1960s and early 1970s.  So we at the Greenbelt Museum believe we absolutely continue to need Black History Month.  Privileging the history of African Americans for a month, can not and will not ever begin to address generations’ worth of violence, prejudice, hardship,  and so, so much worse,  and in an ideal world, that history should be incorporated into all of the narratives that make up our nation’s history, but hopefully, by raising awareness, and by attempting to create a safe space and forum for discussions about race to take place, we here at the Museum can begin to help.  Of course, publishing a photo featuring African American workers at Greenbelt is a tiny gesture, but the Museum made a larger one last year, one we are dedicated to continuing. In conjuction with the city’s 75th anniversary, we established an Archive of the African American Experience in Greenbelt to formalize the collection of this part of Greenbelt’s story.  We welcome photos, reminiscences, thoughts and remarks. If you have something to share, please contact us at greenbeltmuseum@gmail.com. For more information about this topic, please see an earlier post here.

Learn about the Gum Drop Co-op, a student run co-operative mini store at Greenbelt's elementary school. Rothstein, 1938, Library of Congress

Learn about the Gum Drop Co-op, a student run co-operative mini store at Greenbelt’s elementary school. Rothstein, 1938, Library of Congress

This lecture was originally scheduled for January 21, 2014 but was cancelled due to inclement weather.  February 25, 7:30pm is the new date.

Learn how Greenbelt women defied the 20th century myth of the middle-class suburban housewife by becoming political actors in their own rights, and how they achieved leadership roles in their community, both in the context of the New Deal and post- World War II. Alli Hartley, the lecturer, is a senior at the University of Maryland, double-majoring in History and English. Alli was the Museum’s first Dorothy Sucher Memorial Intern who completed her internship in December 2013. In addition to researching Greenbelt women, during her internship, she created an activity book and an interactive children’s area in the Greenbelt Museum’s historic house.   This lecture is free. Sponsored by the Friends of the Greenbelt Museum.

Valentine's Program FINAL FINAL(1) typePLEASE NOTE: With more snow forecast for this evening, it’s with heavy hearts that we’ve decided we must cancel this event. Our first priority is the safety of our visitors and volunteers. Stay safe and warm, everyone!

No plans for Valentine’s Day? Come by the Museum’s historic house at 10B Crescent, on February 14th, 7-9pm,  for a fun and light-hearted look at love in the 30s and 40s. The house is decorated for the holiday, of course, with pink depression glass, vintage heart-shaped candy boxes, Valentines, etc. But this is a rare chance to see so much more, all on loan from private collectors:  hilarious old books like marriage manuals, True Story magazines, (tasteful) Pin Up art, short films, and more!

On your own?  No worries!  No date required!  Tours will be mostly self-guided, though staff will be on hand to answer questions. $5 per person payable at the door (all admission fees benefit the Friends of the Greenbelt Museum, the non-profit organization that supports and operates the Museum.  Lots of free parking just across the street behind the Greenbelt Public Library.  Hope to see you there!

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 UPDATE:  This lecture has been rescheduled for February 25, 2014 at the Greenbelt Community Center, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770. 7:30pm.  We hope to see you there!  Thanks for your patience as we reorganized! 

January 21, 2014

Tonight’s Museum Lecture – “Women Organize Effectively”  Greenbelt Women and Civic Participation by Alli Hartley scheduled for 7:30pm in the Greenbelt Community Center tonight has been POSTPONED due to inclement weather.  The Greenbelt Community Center is closed. The lecture will be rescheduled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Snowing in GreenbeltPlease note:  The Museum’s historic house at 10-B Crescent Road will be OPEN on Sunday December 29 from 1-5, but will be open by appointment only throughout January 2014. To make an appointment, please email greenbeltmuseum @ gmail.com and allow a week’s notice.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, the staff, and our dedicated volunteers – THANK YOU for a terrific year. We’ve been busy here at the Museum both creating new events and programs for you to enjoy like the Roosevelt Ride in May 2013 and continuing long-lived traditions like our quarterly lecture series.

  • This year Museum staff, interns and volunteers:
    – Welcomed 370 visitors to the Museum house on Sundays for tours.
    – Lead 24 walking tours including several groups from China.
    – Planned two special tours for individuals with disabilities.                                                                                                                                                                    
  • - Programmed a popular  quarterly lecture series attended by 196 people.
    – Held several signature events including the Roosevelt Ride, the Retro Town Fair, and the Rexford Revue fundraiser.
    – Visited Greenbelt Elementary School, Springhill Lake Elementary, & Greenbelt Middle School to share information about Museum.
    – Recorded 14 oral histories with residents from all areas of the city including Greenbelt East and West.
    – Created a hands-on exhibit in the Museum house…  and much more!

It’s not too late to make a donation to support the work we do!  Just click here!  We are a 501(c)(3) so donations are tax-deductible.  Thank you!

We look forward to seeing you in 2014!

Art for front of Greenbelt Museum holiday card 2013

Museum’s 2013 holiday card, based on a card from the 1940s in our collection – a gift from the Labukas family.

We hope you will visit us at 10B Crescent, Greenbelt, MD 20770 for “Deco the Halls,” our annual free evening open house held on Dec. 13,  7-9pm in conjunction with City of Greenbelt’s tree lighting. (The event was originally scheduled for Dec. 6, but was postponed because of inclement weather.) The house sparkles at night with vintage holiday decorations! We’ve hung delicate glass ornaments on the tree, set the table for Christmas dinner, hung stockings and wreaths and have proudly displayed our menorah, acknowledging that Greenbelt was integrated in terms of religion when it was established, as the  planners aimed for a population that would be 63% Protestant, 30% Catholic, and 7% Jewish.

We are currently researching  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the celebration of Jewish holidays in Greenbelt. If you grew up here and have specific memories of holidays gone by, please send a note to Megan Searing Young, Museum Director, Greenbelt  Museum, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770 or to museum@greenbeltmd.gov. We would love to hear from you!

We also have great new items for the gift shop –  vintage-themed toys, a new coffee mug, bags and zip pouches celebrating 1930s and 1940s design and so much more. The 2013 holiday card, above, is based on a card in our collection from the Labukas family.   Happy Holidays from all of us here at the Greenbelt Museum!

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