The Madison County Museum offers a unique peak into local history and is filled with stories and items from the past that help us understand the community as a whole. However, like other local traditions, the Museum is in need of new faces and ideas.
The building for the location on Madison Street was donated in 1991 by Roger Knight, but there was a lot of work to be done. The Museum's Commission became active in 1995. At first, many in the community were active and willing to donate and preserve the history of Madison County.
That support, however, has fallen off ever since. This is especially true in recent years. Laura Cannon, a volunteer at the Museum, brought to life the stories from inside the walls and shared the local past with the community in her Meteor columns.
"I worked real hard at the writing part and enjoy it immensely," said Cannon. "But my purpose in doing so was to keep people interested and hopefully build from there. People tell me they read it, but they don't ask when they can come into the Museum or volunteer."
Membership to the museum costs $25 a year per household, but it has dwindled the last three years. The volunteer list has also diminished substantially. What used to be a sizable collection of names is now just a handful.
"It would be nice to have some fresh ideas, but I don't have the same interests as most younger people do," said Cannon. "If we had some new volunteers, we would be able to do some new things at the Museum."
Jane Day Reynolds, a Madisonville native and curator of the Museum since 2015, agrees that the establishment is in dire need of new customers and volunteers. She also urged the community not to be turned off by the word.
"I think people hear 'volunteer' and naturally think there's a lot of work involved," said Reynolds. "More than anything, we need people to come have a look around and share their memories, because many of us are fading away."
Reynolds stated that the Museum is as good a place as any to come and enjoy yourself. She also added that she'd be happy to fix anyone a cup of coffee during their visit.
The lack of interest seems to be an ongoing trend in Madisonville and is not exclusive to the Museum. Both Cannon and Reynolds referenced the recent removal of the Cattleman's Association rodeo arena as well as the questionable status of the Mushroom Festival's future.
"Just being in a place can stimulate memories," said Cannon. "It's troubling, but it seems like we don't care enough about what we have until it's gone."
The Madison County Museum is located at 201 N. Madison Street and is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.