Morris Plains Museum Exhibit Celebrates New Jersey’s 350th Anniversary

Morris Plains Museum Association members show off  all the new items at the exhibit (l to r) Cara Del Gaudio,  Morris Plains Councilwoman Sue McCluskey, Ellie Arnould-Tomb and Joyce Hendrickson.
Morris Plains Museum Association members show off all the new items at the exhibit (l to r) Cara Del Gaudio, Morris Plains Councilwoman Sue McCluskey, Ellie Arnould-Tomb and Joyce Hendrickson.

Morris Plains: The new exhibits now on display at the Morris Plains Museum have a little something for everyone! The volunteers of the Morris Plains Museum Association have finalized a mulit-faceted exhibit in honor of the 350th Anniversary of the founding of the State of New Jersey. 


Whether you’re a resident or former resident of Morris Plains, or just an area history buff, the museum has lots to offer.  Located on the lower level and rear entrance of the town’s Community Center at 51 Jim Fear Drive, just off Malapardis Road, the Museum is open every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (or for groups by appointment).  The Museum Association members along with Dan Myers, Morris Plains Town Historian, share the responsibility of serving as docents and provide personalized tours to visitors.


As Veronica Kelly, Museum Association President, pointed out, “the museum is always a surprise to those who stop by, it’s so much larger than people expect and there’s so much to see.  This new exhibit adds even more to what we have to share with the public.”  Now, for one of the new exhibit areas, there’s a place for children to enjoy playing colonial era games (recommended for young people over 6 years old).   In the past hand-crafted games made of wood, rough rope and clay were used to teach children the motor skills needed to help with family chores.  Jacks, cup and ball toys, ring toss, and marbles (these early versions are not the same as what you see today) were just a few of the toys used to help teach young children how to pick berries, collect eggs, clean rugs, weed the garden and much more.  Visiting youngsters will leave with a puzzle to take home, too.


Additionally, to celebrate the area’s history, visitors will be treated to information on how the area developed from the earliest Indian tribes, explorers and early settlers with detailed timelines, and photographic displays. There are details on a number of the important families that helped to found Morris Plains.  Many will recognize street names that are prominent throughout the town, such as the Fairchild, Peer, Hathaway families and more.  Old photographs and paintings show their homes and farms.


Town visitors are challenged to find where their homes are located on the many old maps out on display.


Eight historic miniature scenes, that represent various early time frames, are also new and on loan to the museum.  Visitors will see what a turn-of-the-century doctor’s office, a colonial wig shop, a prairie home (with spinning wheel, tiny carved toys, and hand-made pottery) as well as Benjamin Franklin’s print shop.  All are historically correct.


There will be a number of statewide activities, but the town of Morris Plains is ready with a treasure trove of history of the area. 


The Morris Plains museum was founded in September of 1974 thanks to the former Borough Historian Muriel Rennie.  In 2005 the museum moved to its present location.  Town historian, Dan Myers, is always happy to accommodate visitors with his wealth of local information.  Dan stated that, “the association members are looking forward to a banner year and we’re prepared for lots of extra tours.”


Books, a revised Historical Time Line, and postcards are available for sale to those who want to study the town’s history on their own in more depth.  For more information call 973-683-1089, go to the museum website at http://www.morrisplainsmuseum.org or email them at info@morrisplainsmuseum.org.



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