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