The Williamson Museum, in the heart of the downtown Square, is as much a Georgetown visitors’ attraction as it is a repository of our county history and an opportunity for lovers of history to be a part of it all.
Mickie Ross is a prime example. In 2005, this former school teacher began setting up education programs, and in 2007 was hired to be the Education Program Coordinator. This month she is celebrating her ninth year as the Executive Director. “This job was never specifically part of my plan,” she says, “but I always dreamed of telling the stories, and I’m so pleased I get to help guide and promote the rich history of Williamson County.”
Ross and her staff work diligently to create and prepare something new on a regular basis for all ages and interests. Just this year, they have covered the founding of Williamson County to World War II, as well as traveling exhibits; KKK Trials, Swedish immigration in Texas, and more. “I couldn’t get anything done without Ann Evans, who builds our exhibits and Danelle Houck, who leads our education efforts.”
While always inspired and interesting, she says there are some misconceptions about a hometown museum. With so many legacy families in Williamson and Georgetown, Ross receives visitors on a regular basis who ask about their personal roots in town. “We are donation driven so, quite the opposite, we find ourselves asking those legacy folks what they can give to us that we can share with others. The stories we tell are the stories we are told.” Without an Indiana Jones-esque warehouse in the basement, Ross and her staff make good use of official records and databases, historical books, loans from other museums, and stories they can identify from people with whom they come in contact, intentionally or otherwise.
It appears, however, to be a labor of love. “Every staff person here now started as volunteer or intern,” Ross says. “They got involved and as positions came open they were the perfect fit. We are always open to new volunteers and interns, and you don’t need any special skills. If you like people, you can be a docent or a living history character. If you aren’t the outgoing type, there are always opportunities to work with our things; cataloguing our 18,000-plus artifacts and the like.”
Outside the museum, our history has been shared with 23,000 students just this year. Houck manages 17 cross-curricular Traveling Trunks that teach about everything from cowboys to endangered species. These interactive presentations are for all grade levels and are booked over and over each year. Sometimes the trunks are double and triple booked at the schools, so Mickie gets to get back to her education roots and do the presentations herself. “It’s a great way to make history come to life.”
Keeping History Alive
Mickie and her staff are always on the lookout for volunteers and supporters. “There are so many things people can do and if they don’t have the time, we welcome new members whose contributions can keep our programs alive.”
The Museum receives only a portion of its budget from government sources, and most of their programming is free to the public, so they work hard to demonstrate the value and benefits of contributing. “We live in a very giving community and we hope that promoting the legacy of the amazing people who settled our county and laid the foundations for this great city, will inspire new generations to keep it all going.”
Supporting the Williamson Museum is as easy as purchasing a ticket to the Cattleman’s Ball, an annual who’s who event in Georgetown that helps fund their programs.
This year the Cattleman’s Ball will be held on October 17, and the museum is honoring Sport Clips owner Gordon Logan, to thank him for all he has brought to our community, and all the ways he and his company give back. ↔