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Dissolution of the Hannah Lindahl Children's Museum Board

The School City of Mishawaka Board of School Trustees voted on October 27, 2021 that the Advisory Board of the Hannah Lindahl Children’s Museum (HLCM), formerly known as the Board of Directors of the Mishawaka Children’s Museum created in January of 1946, from this day forward be dissolved after 75 years of faithful service in assisting the School City of Mishawaka Board of School Trustees to govern the Hannah Lindahl Children’s Museum and carry out their mission of educating the children of Mishawaka.

Lisa Gartee, HLCM Advisory Board President shared the following statement:

Good evening President Parks, members of the School Board and Superintendent Barker,

I am here to share that after 3 ½ years of exploring, planning, packing and moving, HLCM has left the building. 

For those that don’t know, the collection has gone to The History Museum (THM), an accredited regional museum located in South Bend.  The process of evaluating thousands of items will now begin.  Not only to determine their condition and care, but also how they can be used in THM’s current displays or future exhibits.  THM’s Children’s Area will be renovated and reimagined, including HLCM items, to create an engaging, hands on learning destination for our community.

For those people who supported HLCM as volunteers, members or donors; or as SCM students, teachers and Administrators, THM welcomes and strongly encourages your assistance in formulating the new space.  Stephanie McCune-Bell, the person hired by THM to head the new Children’s Area is here this evening, and excited to hear your thoughts. THM also plans to have a special preview for HLCM supporters prior to the grand reopening to showcase how the collection is being used throughout the building.     

While it’s exciting to think about the Museum’s future, it’s just as important to honor our past.  I sometimes wonder if Superintendent P.C. Emmons would have said yes to Mrs. Carol Eberhart Hillier in 1946 if he knew that commitment was going to last 75 years?  My conclusion is the poor man really had no choice.  Miss Hannah Lindahl was one of the first to be told of the idea, and she and Mrs. Hillier weren’t going to take no for an answer.  It became their passion to create the Mishawaka Children’s Museum.  And although the responsibility for supporting a thriving children’s museum has led to occasional questioning by subsequent Superintendents, there have always been passionate women, Museum Directors and others, who have adapted in ways that allowed the SCM/HLCM partnership to continue.  So, several years ago when the relationship again was being reevaluated, it took some time to realize the HLCM Advisory Board’s role wasn’t to find ways to continue the partnership, but to end it.  To free up space and resources for SCM and to find a new partner that would allow the Museum incredible opportunities for growth.

When we say, “The Museum” we think of a place or particular objects, but it’s really the people who are exposing children to new ideas or items they’ve never seen and creating experiences that can carry over into their adult lives.  I have no doubt that a SA visit has led someone to a career in fire service.  I recently found out about 3 little girls who were so taken with the Tea Room, they learned Japanese in high school and one ended up teaching English for a time in Shiojiri.  Or the granddaughter of one of our Directors who respectfully played with her sister in our school room and then spent part of her career teaching at MHS.  These shared experiences at HLCM were repeated from one generation of students after another and promoted a pride in Mishawaka history that binds together the people of this area, no matter where they live.

So, thank you for saying yes & being our partner for 75 years.  For giving us the opportunity to join you in providing positive learning experiences for children.  I think we can all feel some pride in being one of the few if not the only school system in this country to operate a museum and later a fire safety house as a means to enrich their student’s education. 

At the last official meeting of the Hannah Lindahl Children’s Museum Advisory Board on September 23, 2021, a resolution was passed to express our deep and heartfelt thanks to School City of Mishawaka for 75 years of continuous support to the Museum, as well as a separate resolution thanking the Mishawaka Fire Department.  Our work is done.  As the Mishawaka School Board of Trustees created the Hannah Lindahl Children’s Museum Advisory Board, I would ask that you take the appropriate action to dissolve our Board.