PLATTSBURGH - If you haven't been by the Battle of Plattsburgh Museum lately, then you haven't seen how the museum has been making some history of its own.
The museum has recently undergone several improvements as part of a $6,000 capital project. The changes, said museum manager Kristina Parker-Wingler, have included incorporating the War of 1812 Museum and Allan S. Everest Interpretive Center into the main museum building on Washington Road, relocating and expanding the BOPA gift shop and office space within the museum.
"We have to change with the times," said Parker-Wingler. "There's always new things discovered when we look at history."
Parker-Wingler's favorite change to the museum was one of the simplest improvements - repositioning a 5-foot by 15-foot table-top model replica of the Battle of Plattsburgh.
"We actually took the legs off the diorama, built a platform and made it leaning to give an aerial view. Now, visitors can stand back and get a better view of the Battle of Plattsburgh.
That change alone is one that's already catching the eyes of visitors, said Parker-Wingler.
"People actually have commented that we must have gotten a new diorama," she said, laughing.
The improvements have also given a better arrangement for new exhibits, including the museum's most recent one, "Misses Mistresses, and Misconceptions: Women in the Northern Theater of the War of 1812." The exhibit, which opened May 22, chronicles the lives of women and families left behind when the men went to war. Handsome, locally-designed vignettes, when combined with the cosmetic improvements at the museum are what Parker-Wingler hopes will attract more visitors.
"It's very important we make improvements and keep exhibits up to date because we have a lot of repeat visitors," she said. "If we become a museum that people have already seen and don't have a reason to come back, we're going to be just one more place that dies and fades into the background."
Parker-Wingler's plans for the museum are hardly over just because the recent improvements are complete. Eventually, she'd like to see a 8-10 minute interpretive film produced that would be shown at the museum on a continuos basis.
"That would really complete the experience," said Parker-Wingler. "It's the only piece to the puzzle that's missing. It all comes down to money and if we can get the money together, we can do it."
The Battle of Plattsburgh Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, including how to make a donation to the museum, call Parker-Wingler at 566-1814.