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Cobblestone Museum director resigns for full-time position at college

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 August 2015 at 12:00 am

File photos by Tom Rivers – Matt Ballard, pictured in 2014 outside the Cobblestone Church, is taking a full-time job with Roberts Wesleyan College. He will continue to work as the Orleans County historian.

GAINES – The director of the Cobblestone Museum worked his last day on Sunday at the museum. Matthew Ballard is starting a full-time position as collections services librarian at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester.

Ballard, 27, has been a director at the museum since February 2014. He spearheaded many projects at the museum complex, including new exhibits, building repair efforts, a revamped Web site, and strengthened partnerships with other historical associations and organizations. He also cultivated potential donors towards the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County.

“He has helped to move the museum towards the goal of expansion and enrichment for every visitor,” said Mary Anne Braunbach, president of the Cobblestone Society board of directors.

The museum’s season continues until Oct. 11. Conner Wolfe will serve as interim director until the season ends on Oct. 11. Wolfe is in his final semester at Brockport State College as a history major. He has been interning with Ballard.

Matt Ballard is pictured with an exhibit about doctors and medical care in Orleans County from the 19th Century.

The museum also has a part-time volunteer coordinator, Sue Bonafini. She will work more hours the last two months of the museum’s season.

Ballard also works as Orleans County historian. He will keep that part-time job. He also wants to stay connected with the Cobblestone Museum. He was appointed to a volunteer position to the Board of Directors for the museum on Thursday.

“I’ve grown attached to the place,” Ballard said about the museum.

He has a master’s degree in library science. He will use that degree in his new job, which also offers full-time pay and benefits.

The museum put new roofs on the Cobblestone Church and a neighboring brickhouse last year, projects that Ballard said were in the works before he arrived.

The Cobblestone Museum has two exhibits this season about the war, including a display of 20 to 25 World War I posters that were discovered while cleaning out the Swan Library. Some of the propaganda posters ask, “Are you 100 percent American?”

He developed an exhibit and lecture series in 2014 – “Medicine at the Museum” – about medical care in the 1800s. The museum showed an extensive collection of artifacts, and many were also donated from community members for the exhibit.

“Medicine at the Museum” features photos and write-ups on many of the pioneer physicians and pharmacists in the county.

The museum also hosted a lecture series with four speakers discussing Orleans and WNY medical history.

Ballard developed an exhibit this year about World War I. “The Great War” has been overshadowed by the second World War that followed about two decades later. The service and sacrifice in the first World War isn’t fully appreciated locally or nationally, Ballard said.

Provided photo – The Cobblestone Society Museum owns this fox that was stuffed by Akeley when he was 16 and living in Clarendon.

Ballard also is excited about a joint restoration effort with the Clarendon Historical Society. They are working together to have a fox restored that was originally stuffed by famed taxidermist Carl Akeley.

When he was 16 and living in Clarendon, he stuffed a fox, which later was donated to the Cobblestone Society Museum. The fox spent years in a glass case inside Farmers’ Hall.

The museum and the Clarendon Historical Society are working to have the 135-year-old fox cleaned and put in an air-tight display.