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History Museum to loan archives to MSU

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The History Museum for Springfield-Greene County has begun transferring its archives, manuscripts, photographs and other paper documents to the Missouri State University Duane G. Meyer Library.

The two organizations have worked out a loan agreement allowing Meyer Library's special collections and archives department to house and preserve the documents, with the approximately 300 linear feet of material to be transferred during the course of several months, according to an MSU news release.

“The History Museum holds the most comprehensive collection of photographs covering Springfield and Greene County,” David Richards, MSU head of special collections and archives, said in the release. “We have the space and facility to safely preserve the collection for the future, and the Missouri State community will have access to a priceless collection of archival material documenting the local region.”

Though the museum will maintain ownership of the materials, the lease agreement is open-ended, meaning the library could theoretically hold the materials indefinitely, museum Executive Director John Sellars said in a phone interview.

"You can't learn about history, you can't learn about your future, if you don't study history," he said. "Our feeling is they would be much more available to the public in that setting."

The transfer will also free up space for the museum's new location at 154 Park Central Square, which the History Museum expects to occupy by June 2011, Sellars said. The museum has been in Springfield's Historic City Hall since 1993, according to its Web site.

"It's all part of our master plan," he said. "If we can keep those records at MSU, it affords us more space in the museum to tell better stories."

Stories such as the museum's first planned exhibit in the new building - a look into everyday life in Springfield and Greene County during the Civil War, he said.  

The museum has been prepping the building - the former location of Barth's Clothing Store - since 2008, after it was purchased for $800,000 via anonymous donations accepted by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks through the Ozarks Charitable Real Estate Foundation, according to Springfield Business Journal coverage.

Larger pieces, such as furniture and textiles, will remain in the museum's current location, which will remain open until the museum moves, the release said.

The History Museum is a private, nonprofit organization that began in 1975 and has been housed in downtown Springfield and the Victorian Bentley House, according to its site.
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