November 08, 2012WOLFEBORO — Looking back on the just-completed 2012 season at the Wright Museum, Board Member and Interim Director John Warner sees many solid accomplishments and much to look forward to in 2013.
A major effort this year was to replace the rotary engine in the museum's M4 Sherman Tank, named "Alligator Alice," and once again make it fully operational. The tank was rebuilt in 2011 but the tank's original Continental R975 radial engine developed problems and ultimately failed. The museum then began a fundraising drive to acquire a replacement engine. "We have raised to date a little over $30,000 and are continuing our campaign," Warner states. "Our efforts have generated enough support to underwrite the acquisition of a military surplus engine that reportedly has never been run." The engine was located in Missouri and shipped to Wolfeboro, where it has been mounted on a engine test stand constructed by volunteer and Vehicle Collection Coordinator Randy Cook. Warner says the plan is to test run the engine and then install it over the winter with the goal of having Alligator Annie fully operational by the time the museum opens in the spring.
Warner noted that the Sherman Tank was not the only vehicle getting attention this year. "Our Museum volunteers have made a particular effort this year to service, tune, repair and refurbish each and every vehicle in the Museum's collection." All of the vintage vehicles are in good working order and the Museum had a bigger presence in the July 4th parade this year than it has in many years.
This year a new exhibit on the Air Corps was unveiled, offering an expanded display of aviation photos and artifacts. Featured in the exhibit was Wolfeboro native and Army flier Clayton Hale, whom Warner notes was the first local man to give his life in service during WWII. For next year a major Marine Corps exhibit is planned that will put special emphasis on Wolfeboro area Corps members. "Additionally, we plan to refurbish and enhance our display concerning Rene Gagnon, a resident of Manchester, New Hampshire who was one of the handful of Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima," Warner says.
The Museum collection was enriched this fall with a bequest of WWII-era artifacts from the estate of James Clough of Wolfeboro. "Mr. Clough had a life-long fascination with the period and during his lifetime amassed an impressive, high quality collection of uniforms, insignia, art, artifacts, souvenirs, books and so forth." His collection is now being catalogued and many items will be added to the Musuem displays in time for next season.
Meanwhile the search has continued for a permanent director for the Museum. Warner notes, "We have had a remarkably large number of applicants and lots of enthusiasm. Many candidates have demonstrated a portion of the skills and qualifications we are seeking, but no one has offered a full range of talents that we desire." For that reason the search process is being suspended for the winter months, to be renewed in the spring, and Warner has agreed to continue his service at Interim Director through December 2013.
The Museum will be open this Sunday to host the Veterans Day service of the American Legion at 11 a.m. It will open again for the Festival of Trees in December.