In 2003, as plans for a new service center for Monmouth Council were being developed, Scout Executive Matt Thornton and Council President Jan Wouters (both of whom have a deep appreciation for history) designated some unused space on the second floor as a “library.” Matt approached Dave Wolverton with the idea of developing this space into a library and museum because Dave had just written a book on the history of Monmouth Council and was an active collector/historian. Dave invited a number of people throughout the council who had an interest in Scouting history to organize a committee to explore the idea. The first meeting occured in January 2004. Subsequent committee meetings were held monthly thereafter.
Rather than attempting to cover every aspect of Scouting, the committee decided very early on to focus the scope of the museum. But rather than focusing narrowly on Monmouth Council BSA, the committee chose a medium-sized scope, that is, to cover the whole state of New Jersey, and to include Girl Scouts as well.
A second major decision which was made very early was to set up a nonproft corporation for the museum which is separate from Monmouth Council BSA. Because the scope of the collection would be larger than Boy Scouting in Monmouth county, there did not need to be a direct correlation with a single council. The committee was aware of problems which other Boy Scout museums had encountered that were council-controlled, and wanted avoid that entanglement. The committee also felt that a direct association with a Boy Scout council might make it more difficult to obtain grant money in the future from foundations or government programs that would gladly fund an historical organization.
Through the spring of 2004 “the word was put out” and donations of artifacts, equipment, and money started to come in.
An initial cache of artifacts and archival records came from the Monmouth Council. As the council staff was preparing to move from the old building in Oakhurst to the new one in Morganville, old things were found in every corner of the building, which had been the headquarters for almost 50 years.
The new council service center opened in Morganville, NJ in June 2004. A grand opening celebration was held in early July 2004. In conjunction with that event, the New Jersey Scout Museum also had its grand opening. Coincidentally, the location is just 14 miles from the site of the Johnston Historical Museum on the grounds of the BSA national headquarters when it was located in North Brunswick, NJ from 1959 to 1986. That museum is now known as the National Scouting Museum.
The following year a number of improvements were made in the exhibit area, such as installing UV-filtering film and blinds on the windows, putting up picture molding, and purchasing a divider. A PC and printer and PastPerfect software were obtained to catalog the artifacts being donated.
In 2012 and 2013 a major renovation of the musueum was completed with state of the art primary display cases and multimedia presentation capabilities. This is dubbed NJSM 2.0
We have also provided displays at several venues:
- 2004 University of Scouting
- 2004 NOAC Center for OA History/OA Museum
- 2004 Monmouth County Archives Day and annually since then
- 2005 Intercouncil College of Commissioner Science
- 2005 Patriot’s Path Tradeshow of Scouting
- 2005 NESA Monmouth Council chapter Eagle Wall Kickoff
- 2005 NESA Monmouth Council chapter Distinguished Eagle dinner
- 2005 Monmouth County Archives Day
- 2008 East Coast Trade-O-Ree, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey
- 2008 New Jersey Inter-Council College of Commissioner Science, William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey
- 2008 Girl Scout Swap Meet Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
- 2010 BSA 100th Anniversary Celebrations
- 2012 GS of the USA 100th Anniversary “Tea with Juliette”
- 2014 and Annually at Monmouth Council BSA Annual Banquet
Currently, our exhibit area is set up using second-hand retail store glass display cases that were donated to the Museum. The displays were installed rather hastily (to be ready for the July 2004 grand opening) and for the most part have not been updated since. We need to update these displays in the near future.
We also installed a special molding (called a picture molding) high on the walls from which we can easily hang things like flags and patch blankets. It is easy to rearrange the items on the walls, and there is no need to mar the walls with holes from picture hangers. By the way, picture molding is found in many old homes, but it is not easy to locate nowadays. A local millworks made it for us. Fortunately, the hangers are widely available by mail order from companies which cater to owners of old homes.
You can see the exhibit area on the Virtual Tour page. Those pictures were taken at various times, and some things have been moved around. You can also see the picture molding in the pictures. There are roughly 7 more display cases not shown in the Virtual Tour.
In October 2005 we purchased several male and female mannequins secondhand from Eastern Mountain Sports. The local Boy Scout and Girl Scout councils also donated a total of five mannequins. Several have already been fitted with period uniforms.
Lucent Technologies donated 3 bookcases to us, where we have started to assemble a reference library of older Scouting books and magazines. These are available for any visitor to browse.
The room where the museum is located is almost 1000 square feet in size. Most of it is used as exhibit space. An office and artifact storage area occupies about one-sixth of the space. The furniture and metal storage closets were scavenged from the old council office when it closed in 2004.
An operating committee meeting is held on the first Wednesday of every month at 7:00 pm at the Morganville building. Anyone with a sincere interest in helping with the Museum is welcome to join us.
The museum is open to the public every Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:00 pm (except holidays). This time coincides with the extended hours of the National Scout Shop downstairs. A docent is available to guide visitors through the museum and answer questions. Currently our docent team is quite small. We are always looking for additional volunteers to supplement the team. We are especially looking for people who would be able to staff it on Saturdays.
The Web Site is managed by webmaster Matt Kaufman with the assistance of Randy Holden and David Crow.
We utilize a Macintosh computer running PC emulation and use PastPerfect museum management software. We are currently in the process of cataloging all of the artifacts in our collection in the PastPerfect system. This system is the same one used by the National Scouting Museum.
Although Monmouth Council BSA donates the exhibit area for the museum, they provide no financial support. All money to pay the expenses of the Museum is raised by memberships in the “Friends of the Museum” program and other donations, selling CD-ROMs, T-shirts and other items in the Museum Shop, and by disposing of donated items which are not needed by the museum, such as duplicate artifacts. (Of course, we always honor any stipulations or restrictions made by donors.)
In the first four years of bootstrapping the Museum, we have spent approximately $6,000, but that figure does not include the value of many things donated by local businesses and private individuals. It also does not include the value of the many artifacts that have been donated.
With the untimely passing of Founder and Curator David Wolverton in 2007, his family made arrangements for David’s extensive personal Scout Memorabilia to be donated to the Museum along with a significant financial contribution for the perpetuation of David’s dream to discover, share and preserve Scouting history for the next generations of Scouts.