Walk Back Through Time With Lynden Pioneer Museum’s New Director Amanda May
Publish by Whatcom Talk
Authored by Margaret Bikman
Having grown up in Everson, it’s fitting that Amanda May — the recently appointed new director of the Lynden Pioneer Museum — says one of her favorite museum exhibits is its replica of old-time Main Street, which includes a 1950s soda fountain, period shops, a pharmacy, a dentist, doctors’ offices, and a glimpse to see the “upstairs” areas from the merchant shops.
“It’s so authentic and the storefront is so incredibly well-made,” she says. “I walk by them every day and still notice little things I hadn’t noticed before.”
May stepped into her new role in December, when the museum’s previous director, Troy Luginbill, chose to move on after nearly 30 years. As a graduate of Nooksack High School, May remembers a lot of community, lots of friends, and involvement in sports, church events, and school activities.
“After a few years into school and my working career, I knew my role would have something to do with business development,” May says. “Being part of a company and seeing potential or assisting in sustaining successful programs is extremely fulfilling.”
May learned quickly that she had a knack for seeing and efficiently reorganizing messy company structure, whether it be system programs, organization processes, or overall structure of a company’s inner workings.
“Some companies I helped were starting from scratch and some just needed help reorganizing,” she says. “No matter what their level of need, I was there to make sure they could be efficient, productive, and successful.”
The director position came about a little out of the blue, she says. “I had previously been on the museum board as the treasurer,” says May, “but full time I was a project manager with a company out of California that sold and managed large projects for commercial furniture.”
She wasn’t looking to make any changes in her work life. Then Troy Luginbill, museum director for 27 years, decided to take his leave last October.
On his Facebook page in October, Luginbill wrote, “I have reached the goal I set out to reach: To make sure a museum that is as amazing and wonderful as the Lynden Pioneer Museum realized the dream that was established in 1976.”
“That dream is complete,” he posted, “and the museum has the ability to move into the second phase of its life as the citizens of Lynden create a new dream of what the museum is and will be for the community.”
After Luninbill’s announcement, board members chipped in to make the museum work before implementing a long-term plan to find a replacement. Because May’s current job was so time-consuming during the week, she struggled to find time to help.
“Then,” she says, “it just clicked. My thinking went from, ‘I can’t do both my full-time job and be a board member,’ to, ‘Why do I have to split my time?’ Her skills and talents were a perfect fit for what the museum needed. She began to really think about being the director and pitched the idea to the board, proposing to revamp the museum from an administrative and operational standpoint.
Luginbill left the museum in a position that the exhibit side was taken care of, she says, and it wasn’t something the museum needed to worry about. The board of directors voted her in as director in November and she started in December. “It was a perfect fit for the time and the timing couldn’t have been better,” May says.
For those who’ve not visited the museum, it’s a wonderful walk through time. Three floors display exhibits on the area’s early industries, and its early settlers and Native American cultures.
One of the museum’s most popular exhibits is the extensive collection of wagons, antique cars (including the first mass-produced GM electric car), horse-drawn carriages, and farm implements.
May also likes the war exhibit and says anyone with military appreciation will find it fascinating. It includes memorabilia brought home by local soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
One of her favorite aspects of her position is program development and she plans to introduce educational programs, as well. She says there will soon be updates and new material that will allow kids of all ages to interact with local history and looks forward to a partnership with schools that will offer field trips that align with lesson plans.
“We are working on getting an online view of all our events for the year, and we are hoping to have an open house in the spring as well as the one we usually have in the fall.”
May and the board have big ideas and, ultimately, want to see the museum be successful. “We’re starting with a great foundation and will build on that while keeping the Lynden Pioneer Museum authentic.”