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New director has vision for Superior's museums

The new director of the Superior Public Museums, Megan Meyer, works on some holiday decorations at Fairlawn Mansion on Wednesday, Nov.28. Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com

A love for history and the way of life of times gone by is the driving motivation for the Superior Public Museums new executive director, Megan Meyer.

The Superior Public Museums board announced last week Meyer is now leading the nonprofit that operates and preserves the city's three museums: Fairlawn Mansion, the SS Meteor and the Old Firehouse and Police Museum.

"I've always just been fascinated with how people used to live and what the community used to be like — just the different ways of life," Meyer said. "And the neat thing is that with all the museums, they're all very unique."

Fairlawn is an 1890s-era Queen Anne Victorian that served as the home of Superior's second mayor, lumber and mining baron Martin Pattison, his wife, Grace, and their six children. It later served as Superior Children's Home. The SS Meteor is the whaleback ship designed by Capt. Alexander McDougall and the only one remaining above water of the fleet built in Superior. And the Old Firehouse and Police Museum, home of the Wisconsin Police and Fire Hall of Fame, commemorates a bygone era in firefighting and law enforcement.

"They are so very different and unique," Meyer said.

Meyer got her start with the museums when she moved to the Twin Ports with her husband in 2015, first visiting Fairlawn Mansion, then volunteering, before serving as a paid tour guide. Meyer has been a volunteer organizer for the popular Fairlawn Mansion Ice Cream Social event for several years, which draws thousands to the mansion every summer.

Meyer grew up in Neenah, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where she earned a degree in recreation management. Before moving to the Twin Ports, she spent more than a decade working in municipal parks and recreation throughout Wisconsin. After her husband took a job at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Meyer went to work as the special events coordinator at the Lake Superior Zoo.

She said the new job gives her a chance to use all the skills she's learned over her career.

Her professional experience includes staff management, membership development, fundraising, facility maintenance, budgeting, and program and event planning. On the side, she worked as a tour guide at Fairlawn and the SS Meteor.

"I obviously already loved the museums as a tour guide," Meyer said. "So it was a cool opportunity to work at them all the time, and to dig more into the histories part of it, the collections part of it, and also the maintenance part. This is a job where I can finally bring all of the stuff I've been working on over years in different positions."

Holiday happenings create opportunity to meet director

Her goals for the museums is to develop a strategic plan with the board and make the museums and their stories more accessible to the public.

One of her goals for the museums is to make them more accessible to the public.

"I would like to do some special tours," Meyer said. "I would like to make the museums more accessible with visual aids for people that can't climb the stairs in the building. There's, unfortunately, no way we can add an elevator."

Meyer plans to develop a virtual tour so people can still experience the museums, even if they can't climb the stairs.

The events currently hosted at the museums will be continued, and Meyer hopes to add a few more.

Meyer's wealth of experience are vital skills for running Superior Public Museums, Board President Katelyn Baumann said.

"It's an added bonus that Megan is already so familiar and invested in the Superior Public Museums organization," Baumann said. "The board is really looking forward to the positive impact Megan will have."

Meyer currently serves on the board for Superior Young Professionals, is an active member of the Superior Jaycee's and is a graduate of Superior/Douglas County Leadership Program.

"I'd like to get us out in the community more, such as being at Spooktacular and different events, going to schools and having traveling displays to take out to schools and nursing homes for people who might not be able to come here."

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