PEABODY — The reopening of the Peabody Museum at 210 N. Walnut St. will be celebrated with a free open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 25.
"We've been closed for two years," said Peabody Historical Society member Carmen South. "We've been renovating and getting everything redone."
A fried chicken dinner with potato salad, baked beans and cake will be available for $10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 25. A silent auction will take place and Peabody Historical Society T-shirts will also be sold during the open house.
Peabody Museum's main building originally served as the town's library before the Carnegie library was built. It was later moved and used as a storage building near Peabody City Park, then moved again and used as a meeting place to serve meals to veterans.
In 1961, the building was moved to its current location and turned into a museum.
"I think the wallpaper that we took off was put up in '61 when they renovated the inside," said Peabody Historical Society member Susan Marshall.
After closing the museum for renovation, its wallpaper was stripped off, cracks in the walls were filled in and it was repainted. A new heating and air conditioning system also was installed.
"We had to take everything out of here and box it up so it didn't get ruined," South said.
That process led to a few interesting discoveries.
"We have lots of duplicates and now we don't know what to do with them," Marshall said.
When multiple families donate similar items, it can be confusing for them not to see their name associated with the artifact on display. The museum's limited space meant many duplicate items had to be stored away.
The museum has added several new items, including a display containing artifacts related to firefighting and the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
The square grand piano that had previously been covered up is now on display and will be retuned.
"We're hoping to have someone playing it during the open house," South said.
The Peabody Museum also houses collections of cameras, Civil War artifacts and items from prisoners of war who were held in the town during World War II.
"We've put in all new cards and new lighting in the showcases," South said.
One of the largest displays in the museum is the Poe Doll Collection room, which has dolls dating back to the 1800s that belonged to Emma Poe. A 4-foot-square, two-story dollhouse filled with miniature dolls, furniture and decorations is also part of the exhibit, along with an Italian presepio Nativity scene made in the mid-1700s.
"The dolls are all carved out of wood or terra cotta. Some of them have cloth bodies, some of them don't," South said. "The unique thing about it is they made the figures all different sizes."
Another room in the museum holds an early popcorn machine, along with articles and photographs about people from Peabody who have gone on to make their mark in the world.
"We have two Secret Service agents who were Peabody High School graduates," Marshall said.
The Peabody Museum also includes the 1881 W.H. Morgan House. The Peabody Printing Museum next door is closed until damage from recent heavy rains can be repaired.
For more information about the Peabody Museum or to schedule a tour, call 620-983-2512.