Scary good changes

Change is scary.

 Change is good.

Change is hard.

Change is easy.

What’s your take on change? Is it scary? Good? Easy? Hard? I believe it is all of the above. At the Barker Mansion, many changes have been made over the last 21 months.

Some of the changes were good (and easy). Getting rid of mold and asbestos in our basement was an easy decision to make and has led to a good change. We now have a clean, well-lit space for future programming.

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Above: The basement at Barker Mansion during the renovation process.

Investing staff time and hiring qualified people like Jackie and Emily to organize our precious archival photos and documents was an easy decision and a change that’s led to all sorts of good. The materials will soon be available digitally to researchers across the globe. Intern Anna is continually researching bits of our past that make us change our story, just in the slightest ways.

Some of the changes were good (and scary). Opening up the mansion to after-hours tours during the Halloween season and letting folks wander in the dark was a scary thought. TJ’s Barker Blackout Tours, however, were among our most popular events for the year.

Another scary good change has been allowing the consumption of alcohol on-site during events such as bridal showers, or Austin’s upcoming Painting the Past program (think wine and canvas-type event). I initially worried about the protection of the artifacts if people were drinking and got tipsy. So far, folks have been extremely well-mannered and my worries have amounted to nothing. It’s been a good change.

So what about the hard changes we’ve made?

Some changes have been hard in the matter of time they consume. Designing a website. Branding the mansion. Deep-cleaning every square inch. Working to the wee hours of the morning so contractors can finish the basement work on time. Staying up all night during Night at the Mansion scout sleepovers. Despite the amount of time all the aforementioned tasks have taken, they have been extremely worth it and have led to good change.

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Above: Night at the Mansion scout sleepovers.

Other changes have been hard due to the unknowns. Will people complain if we change our tour times and offerings? How will people respond to more authentic (and way toned-down) Christmas decorations? Will teachers grumble if we scrap a long-running field trip program and replace it with more historically-based material? What will people think if we rope off certain rooms to protect the artifacts? All of these questions posed great concerns to me, and still do. While we certainly take criticism for some changes, others are met with great acceptance.

Please wish us luck, foresight and wisdom as we continue to make scary good changes at the Barker Mansion.

Jessica Rosier, Director

jrosier@emichigancity.com

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