National Museum of the Morgan Horse Update

October 11th, 2017

The American Morgan Horse Association, Inc. would like to update everyone on the status of the National Museum of the Morgan Horse (NMMH) and provide the facts regarding the possibility of placing the museum on the grounds of the "Big E" in West Springfield, MA.

Mari Sanderson, AMHA President, Carrie Mortensen, AMHA Executive Director, and Amy Mincher, NMMH Director met with The Eastern States Exposition management on August 14, 2017. Those included were Stacey Hathaway, Horse Show Coordinator; Eugene Cassidy, President and CEO; John Juliano, Senior Director Sales, Marketing and Entertainment; Nancy Delson, Director of Development; Jessica Fontaine, Director Storrowton Village Museum; and Don Chase, past president and CEO.

Stacey Hathaway took us for a tour of Storrowton Village Museum and the site where the proposed, new building would be located. The approximate dimensions of the building would be 34 x 110 feet long. The building would have a basement and a first and second floor. Approximate square footage when completed would be in the 10,000 square foot range of useable space. The cost estimate is about $500 a square foot and at a total cost estimate of $5 million. The building would be designed to stay within the aesthetic design of Storrowton Village which would be circa 18th-19th century. There are craft vendor stalls there now, but those would be removed.

The Village is open year around and has many school class visits along with tourists. They envision not only the Morgan museum memorabilia and collection, but the story of Justin Morgan the man. Since he was born in West Springfield, MA the management felt that was an important addition to the story. At this point in time no plans are made to have any other breed of horse incorporated into the museum. The proposed builder/designer of the new building has scale models of many of the wooden bridges in New England and it would also house that collection.

The museum would be taken over in perpetuity. If at some point, the Eastern States Exposition decided it no longer wanted to house the NMMH then the museum would revert back to the AMHA. We would have rights continued research and access to the collection. The entire collection would revert to the Eastern States Exposition along with the trust fund. They are also open to having portions of the collection on display from time to time (traveling exhibit).

The next step is for a feasibility study to be done by Eastern States Exposition. This would mean we would give access to our members’ contact info along with the Board of Directors contact info. It would also mean giving access to whomever has donated to the museum or AMHA in the past. Once all is approved, the “Big E” would move forward with starting the building. Completion time is expected to be approximately 18 months to two years. The management was made aware that our lease with Middlebury College expires in 2020.

There would be a fund-raising campaign initiated. This would not only be geared to us in the Morgan industry, but outside sources and heavily publicized announcements created. Stacey Hathaway spent three days at NEMHS talking to members and got a very favorable response to the possibilities of a permanent museum in West Springfield, MA that would have upwards of at least 400,000 visitors every year. Both parties were extremely excited about all the possibilities.

President Mari Sanderson called an emergency meeting of the AMHA Board of Directors on Thursday August 17, 2017. This was called to get approval from the AMHA Board for the “Big E” to go forth with their feasibility study and share Board of Directors and members’ names and contact information with them. This was unanimously approved by the Board. AMHA hopes to receive the results of the feasibility study in November of this year and will provide an update following its review.

Any additional questions or inquiries can be directed to Executive Director, Carrie J. Mortensen at the AMHA Office by calling (802) 985-4494, ext. 201 or e-mailing execdir@morganhorse.com.

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