To the Editor:
As the granddaughter of Plessa Myers Wilkinson, one of the original members of the Fisherman's Life Museum, I take great interest in how the Museum is doing.
Since my grandmother helped establish the Museum, four generations of our family have made pilgrimages to the former home of Ervin and Ethelda Myers and their 13 daughters to learn about our family history.
Now that I live here on the Eastern Shore, I was looking forward to volunteering for the Museum and giving back to a place that has given so much to my family and this community. However, when I checked the website to see when it would be opening, I was surprised to see that it was temporarily closed, not due to COVID-19, as had earlier been the case, but due to "projects…underway to improve the infrastructure and enhance the visitor experience for when the site does reopen to the public." What projects, I wondered? And what was the projected opening date? To get answers to my questions, I contacted Matthew Hughson at the Museum to understand the situation.
After talking with him for almost an hour, I was left feeling very concerned about the Museum's future. The issues facing it are complex, but three major issues are a lack of access to running water due to the Mitchell house being condemned (which is where they sourced their water), a lack of serviceable, accessible public washrooms, and buildings that haven’t been adapted to fill the void left by the support structure the Mitchell house used to provide. These issues must be addressed and soon, yet progress is being hindered by what seems to be a cumbersome multi-stakeholder, co-management structure which is outdated and ineffectual; in brief, the current management model needs to be modernized. These issues need to be sorted, funds allocated, and work done to get the Fisherman’s Life Museum up and running, and soon.
The museum means a lot to a lot of people of the Eastern Shore. Two summers without visitors is just not good, for the Museum or for the economy of the community that supports it. Right now, the Museum's future seems to be in jeopardy. The Fisherman’s Life Museum has a proud 60-year history and is an important cultural resource that many of our ancestors on the Eastern Shore helped to build and launch. Let's not leave it to fade away.