May 14—The Aiken County Historical Museum held a grand opening for its newly renovated exhibit celebrating 150 years of Aiken County on Thursday evening.
"This is an opportunity not only to celebrate the city of Aiken history, but the county of Aiken history and it's a chance for us to build with our community and represent a little bit of each area's history," said Lauren Virgo, executive director of the Aiken County Historical Museum.
Over the course of the past year and half the museum has been using its Capital Project Sales Tax money to renovate the building structure. The oldest part of the building is from 1862 and the newest part from 1931.
"One of the things we have done with our Aiken County 150th year exhibit about Aiken County's history is incorporate new technology into it. Since we can no longer use interactive touch carts you sometimes use in museums, we had to find other ways to engage visitors," Virgo said.
The museum is trying to engage more in the digital age with the use of social media. Aikencounty150.org offers YouTube videos by the museum which feature a variety of historians from around the county who talk about history in different areas of the county.
The museum is trying to accurately bring history to the forefront without bias, and will tell stories about injustice, stories about happiness, the Great Depression and more, Virgo said.
"Life isn't always pure moments of greatness, it's also of defeat and moments we could've done a lot better," Virgo said.
Carol Wood, a guest at the grand opening, said she was excited to come to the exhibit to see what they put together. Wood said the museum is important because it has a lot of things that were given so people in the present could see how things were done in the past. Wood said she knows a lot about certain items that have been donated.
"These girls have been working extremely hard on this, there are countless hours of research and the positioning of the objects, so the physical part is over so that is what I am excited about, but more importantly it's a good snapshot of the county," said Phillip Strawbridge, chairman of the Aiken County Historical Commission.
Strawbridge said there is something for everyone at the museum, and noted there's a clear effort to represent all parts of the county.
The museum is working on a five-year plan to renovate other exhibits throughout the museum. The military exhibit at the museum is the next to be worked on.
The Aiken County Historical Museum plans to have a party on Oct. 1 to celebrate Aiken County's 150th anniversary.