Military museum continues to grow, seeks volunteers

Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 12, 2013

 Chris Causley, founder of the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Museum in Eastpointe, stands in a storage room filled with museum artifacts that need to be catalogued.

Chris Causley, founder of the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Museum in Eastpointe, stands in a storage room filled with museum artifacts that need to be catalogued.

Photo by Sara Kandel

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By Sara Kandel

EASTPOINTE — Since it first opened its doors in Eastpointe almost three years ago, the Michigan Military Technical and Historical Museum has continued to grow with new exhibits, lecture series and events.

“Right now, we have reached the point where we are just barely self-sustaining,” said Museum founder Chris Causley. “Our next step is to continue to grow so we have enough funding to bring in new collections and expand.”

In the last few years, the museum has grown a lot, but with each additional display acquired and event hosted, more volunteers are needed.

“The few volunteers we have are starting to get a little worn out,” Causley said. “We are looking for volunteers so we can do more and bring in additional speakers, clubs, groups and displays.”

Councilwoman Wendy Richard-son, who is a major supporter of the museum and volunteers her time there, said volunteers are needed to do all that the museum does.

“The museum does so much on a shoestring budget, about $25,000 a year, but we want to continue to grow and we would love to bring more people in and do more community outreach, and with more volunteers, we could do that,” Richardson said.

The storage rooms in the back of the museum are piled with boxes of items that have been donated to the museum.

“I’m thinking about putting these in a display together called the Tale of Three Brothers,” Causley said, pointing to a wardrobe filled to the brim with perfectly preserved World War II and Korean War uniforms. “These belonged to three brothers. None of them ever married and they all lived together in a house in Hamtramck.

“When the last of the brothers passed away, their nephew called us. He gave us the address and said, ‘Bring a truck.’ We are still in contact with the nephew. We are hoping to get photos of the brothers so we can use them in the display.”

Before they can go on display, though, they need to be catalogued and put into a database, just like the neatly boxed artifacts stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling in the adjacent storage room.

It’s not especially difficult work, but it is time-intensive. Last year, a college student came in to help out with it when she could.

“She was a history major and volunteered cataloguing for résumé fodder,” Causley said. “She’d go back there and enter items in the database for hours on end. She helped us a lot.”

A few high school students have volunteered at the museum for required National Honor Society and graduation volunteer hours, and a handful of local retirees have helped out now and again, but in order for the museum to grow, it needs at least a few more regular volunteers.

“We need volunteers in a lot of areas,” Causley said. “We really need help with (information technology), maybe more than anything else. Right now, we just have a bunch of standalone laptops. We need someone who can help us create a network so the database can be accessed from any computer.”

Even if they had more volunteers wanting to catalogue items, only one could work on it at a time because the database is kept and can only be accessed through one of the units.

The museum is also in need of volunteers to man the front window and gift shop, and volunteers who are interested in training to become docents.

“We just completed the docent training manual and we’re looking for a few glorified tour guides and just hang out in the museum and answer questions,” Causley said.

Museum hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Weekday group tours are available by appointment.

Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors, military and students with identification. Youths ages 16 and younger are free when accompanied by an adult.

The Michigan Military Technical and Historical Museum is located at 16600 Stephens in Eastpointe. For more information, call (586) 872-2581 or visit www.mimths.org.

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