The Moody Museum is working to keep history safe as other history unfolds outside.
On July 23, the Taylor City Council heard an update from the Moody Museum Advisory Board. The museum has been closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We shut down the Moody in March out of concern for our docents and also out of concern for the museum itself because none of us know how we can safely sanitize that historical building,” said Susan Komandosky, Moody Museum board president. “I think that would be something of a challenge to say the very least.”
Museum staff isn’t the only group trying to find answers. They turned to the Texas Historical Commission and the American Association for State and Local History for guidance.
“Nobody really knows exactly how they can handle it,” said Komandosky, “and you can tell people not to touch something but if they’re going to have to climb to the second floor, you can’t tell them they can’t grab the handrail, at least not safely.”
In the meantime, many archival items have been moved into a storage building or left at the Taylor Public Library.
The Friends of the Moody Museum organization has invested time and money into the museum. With the group’s help, the museum hired a temporary person to work on inventory and a Friends member built a new podium. Financial support allowed the museum’s board to preserve a railroad memorabilia collection from Taylor Station, which recently closed. Komandosky explained the memorabilia’s significance aside from Taylor being founded by the railroad.
“Daniel Moody, the governor’s father, came here as a land agent for the IGN Railroad to sell off lots to start the town,” said the board president, “and so there’s a very close connection there to the family history as well as to the town history.”
Looking ahead, the board recommends that the city hire a museum curator, at least part-time. In a normal year, the board says that the number of groups requesting tours and the work to be done is more than can be handled by volunteers.
“It’s not for lack of wanting to. It’s just for lack of time more than anything else,” said Komandosky. “For one thing, the inventory is not complete. I don’t think the city’s insurance on the museum is probably as robust as it should be given what’s in there now as compared to when that was done.”
She also mentioned the drip irrigation system around the house might need to be fixed since she noticed the museum started to lose some plants. The museum is also pursuing a Texas historical marker for Daniel Moody, who was Taylor’s first mayor.
The museum board had hopes of a Dan Moody statue coinciding with the 45th anniversary of the founding of Friends in 1976. However, a fundraiser campaign planned for this year has been postponed due to the pandemic.
“We’ll hopefully pursue it next year. That’s our goal,” said Komandosky. “The design is there. We’re just waiting for the funding to have the foundry casted.”
“The design for the statue is really great. It’s a really attractive looking statue,” added Mayor Brandt Rydell. “I’m looking forward to that coming to fruition.”
Events are also on hold at the museum. A Veterans Day program could potentially be put on the calendar, but safety is the museum’s priority.
“As much as we’d like to do it,” said Komandosky, “I want to be sure — and I think you do too — that we’re doing it safely.”