New ‘Seeing Stars’ Exhibit, Three Years In the Making, Features Historic Flags & Patriotic Artifacts
HIGHLANDS, NJ - The Twin Lights Museum, which draws more than 75,000 visitors a year, has reopened after a top-to-bottom renovation and the installation of a new exhibit entitled Seeing Stars: Every Flag Tells A Story. The exhibit covers the history of the United States through its flags, and celebrates the spring day in 1893 when the Pledge of Allegiance was given as the national oath of loyalty for the first time, at the Twin Lights.
“The Seeing Stars opening is particularly gratifying given that the museum renovation looked to be dead on arrival three years ago,” says Twin Lights Historical Society president Mary Jo Kenny. “At a meeting here in October of 2012, we got the enthusiastic blessing and support of the top folks from the New Jersey State Parks Service. A week later, Sandy struck and we were informed that if we wanted to continue, we were probably on our own.”
The Society’s board members voted to keep moving forward, funding the project through small donations from visitors and sales in the Museum Store—with the state and county helping whenever and wherever they could.
“By reinvigorating the site and creating an international tourism destination, we determined we could pump more than $1 million a year into the devastated local economies,” says Mark Stewart, head of the museum collection for the Twin Lights Historical Society. “That suddenly made the Seeing Stars project a priority on a whole new level. How often does a historical society create a public-private partnership with that kind of positive impact? In New Jersey, at least, we’ve been told it’s unprecedented.”
Three years after Sandy, with state and federal storm recovery funds dwindling—and most charities having moved on to the next disaster—the Twin Lights and the Society have much to be proud of. It’s not just the final product. It’s the process. Thousands of volunteer hours, vendors offering generous discounts on their goods and services, and the guiding hand of the state all combined to make the impossible a reality.
“Ours is a story about Sandy recovery that probably won’t get a lot of play,” says Mary Jo Kenny. “But I can’t imagine a better example of how a small group of people can pull together and make a sustained difference in the lives of so many of their neighbors.”
Seeing Stars will run through 2016, and will increase attendance by an estimated 40,000 or more visitors during that time. A generous marketing grant from the Edison Foundation will be used to promote the museum.
Like the popular North Tower and gigantic Fresnel lens on display, the Seeing Stars exhibit is free of charge and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The museum will be open on Veteran’s Day. For more information log onto twinlightslighthouse.com or call 732–872–1814.