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Spread holiday cheer and celebrate local history at the Morgantown History Museum

Santa Claus is coming to town Friday evening, Dec. 15, at the Morgantown History Museum’s holiday event, where he will greet visitors, pose for photo ops and share cookies and hot cocoa. Alongside this special guest, the museum will showcase a special coal mining exhibit and collect food donations for The Shack Neighborhood House.

Dedicated to preserving and promoting regional history, the Morgantown History Museum boasts a collection spanning from prehistoric artifacts to present day pieces. Highlights include glassware from local manufacturers, memorabilia from World War I, World War II and the Civil War, Native American artifacts, and a favorite of many visitors — the original tombstone of Zackquill Morgan, the founder of Morgantown.

“I hope [visitors] take away the fact that the Morgantown History Museum is a place where they can not only learn about their local history, but also have fun while doing so,” said Museum Manager Jason Burns. “We’re really pushing to bring the fun back to the museum and bring the life back to the history of the area, and just get people to appreciate and understand the history of the city and the county.” 

Although the Morgantown History Museum has hosted holiday events in the past, this year’s promises to be one of the best, Burns said.

With the idea for a holiday event already brewing, inspiration struck when Burns discovered an authentic vintage one-horse open sleigh — yes, exactly like in the song — in the museum’s storage and brought it out for display. Visitors are invited to admire and sit in the sleigh for photos throughout December. Although the sleigh’s exact dating is unknown, its design resembles the early 20th-century style, but may be older. The sleigh has a history within the city of Morgantown, having been previously featured in a local Christmas parade and displayed in a downtown storefront.

During tonight’s event, cookies, hot cocoa and other refreshments will be served, and attendees are encouraged to explore the rest of the museum’s exhibits during the event, including one that features another hallmark of the holiday season — coal.

The Morgantown History Museum’s coal mining exhibit for the month of December, featuring artwork loaned by The Shack Neighborhood House. (Submitted Photo)

During December, the museum’s coal mining exhibit takes center stage with a revitalized collection featuring coal mining gear, photographs, advertisements and pieces of coal from the region. Additionally, an exhibit highlighting Morgantown native Don Knotts’ life and career has been arranged.

In collaboration with The Shack, two items have been specially loaned to the museum for this month’s exhibit — a pair of paintings by the daughter of Mary Behner, founder of The Shack. In addition, the Morgantown History Museum has organized a drive to collect shelf-stable food donations for The Shack throughout this month. Donations can be brought to the museum during operating hours.

Beyond this event, Burns aims to kick off his duties as the museum’s new manager by fostering community engagement, organizing an exciting lineup of events and reviving some of the museum’s archived historical pieces.

“We’ll have [events] that specifically speak to the area and speak to the people in town and the county,” said Burns. “We’ll be bringing out some things that are in the archives that maybe have never been seen before. We’re going to open things up, bring them all back to life.”

Tonight’s holiday event will run from 5-7 p.m. at the Morgantown History Museum, 175 Kirk St. Entrance, photos and refreshments are free. The museum’s typical operating hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and noon-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Entry is always free.

The museum is also hosting a giveaway for a vintage handcrafted dollhouse at $2 per ticket, available for purchase until the drawing date on Dec. 22. As a nonprofit organization, funds raised by this raffle will support the museum’s operations. 

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