Appalachian Trail Museum receives grant for educational program

Posted Aug. 25, 2010, at 10:01 a.m.

GARDNERS, Pa. — The Appalachian Trail Museum Society has received a grant from the Quimby Family Foundation in Portland, Maine, to extend the educational focus of the recently opened Appalachian Trail Museum.

“The Quimby grant will fund a collaborative effort with Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures in Bloomington, Ind., to develop a small traveling exhibition to educate the public about the culture and bond that exists among long-distance hikers who hike the 2,179-mile trail that passes through 14 states from Maine to Georgia,” said Terry Harley-Wilson, vice president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society.

“Educational programming designed to spark in teenagers and young adults an interest in hiking and backpacking, by introducing them to the individuals who make the Appalachian Trail an important part of their lives, will be developed and offered to venues that will be hosting the exhibit,” Harley-Wilson said.

“The Quimby Family Foundation has been integral to our success in opening the Appalachian Trail Museum on June 5. At the museum, we are honoring the men and women who conceived of the trail, built it and first hiked it from end-to-end. The museum also is a tribute to those who hike and maintain the trail today,” said Larry Luxenberg, president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society and founder of the museum. “In addition to interesting exhibits, the Appalachian Trail Museum is active with programs that encourage hiking, conservation and physical fitness. The traveling exhibit will be a significant addition to our education outreach efforts.”

Harley-Wilson said the traveling exhibit will open at the Mathers Museum in the spring of 2011 and then will be sent to a number of organizations based in Maine for use within their own programming. The Chewonki Foundation, the Susan L. Curtis Foundation, Unity College, the Trail’s End Festival, Teens-To-Trails, and the L.C. Bates Museum at Good Will Hinckley have expressed an interest in using the exhibit.

“We also plan to include the exhibit at trail-related events such as Trails Days in Damascus, Va., and the Appalachian Long Distance Hiker Association’s Annual Gathering, where we will offer a panel/discussion program for participants to consider what it is about the hiker subculture that makes it so unique,” Harley-Wilson said.

“Upon the completion of its tour, the exhibit will be incorporated into the Appalachian Trail Museum, perhaps as a featured display as we expand the museum.”

The Quimby Family Foundation also provided funding to scan nearly 13,000 Polaroid photographs representing approximately 18,600 individuals that were taken between 1979 and 2008 at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s headquarters in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Eventually these images will be made available in a searchable online database that will be incorporated into the conservancy’s website (www.appalachiantrail.org

Located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park and at the midway point of the Appalachian Trail, the museum is across from the Pine Grove General Store on Pennsylvania Route 233. The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. daily to Labor Day and on weekends from noon to 4 p.m. from Labor Day to Oct. 31 plus Columbus Day.

For more information check www.atmuseum.org or info@atmuseum.org.

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