HARBOR SPRINGS – A building donated to the city of Harbor Springs will remain open, thanks to the joint efforts of the city and the local historical society.
The Andrew J. Blackbird Museum – deeded to the city in 1964 – was the home of Blackbird, also known as “Black Hawk”, from 1858 until his death in 1908. Blackbird was a chef, historian and author of the Odawa tribe.
The building currently houses Native American artifacts and, until recently, the Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. When the chamber left the space, discussions about its future began.
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“Under the terms of the city deed, the building is to remain open to the public as a museum at all times,” said Kristyn Balog, executive director of the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society.
“When the chamber moved earlier this year, the city commissioned the historical society to assess the museum and what it would take to restore it and reopen it as a full-fledged museum.”
Balog said the company recently reached a short-term agreement with the city, keeping the building open until the end of December. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Saturday beginning Friday, July 15.
“We only agreed to help run it on the condition that the city intended to move forward with a full restoration and museum exhibit,” Balog said.
The city sees the partnership as a win-win.
“This is an incredible opportunity to coordinate with the company in the restoration of one of the city’s oldest and most historic buildings,” said City Manager Victor Sinadinoski.
“We don’t have experts on staff in the city to run a museum and we haven’t had a professional to run the collection for some time. We own the building and as the statement states act, we have to keep it open. There is no one better in this field to help manage this than the company.”
Sinadinoski said the city has a separate fund to help maintain the museum and its collection, but may decide to fundraise after restoration assessments are complete.
“In the long term, we really want to showcase this building and create a space that lives up to its historical significance,” he said.