Zeeland Historical Society Grows Its Professional Team
While many museums are scaling back operations considering the times, The Zeeland Historical Society is pleased to announce that they have added two full-time members to their team, a museum manager and a director.
Audrey Rojo has been the archivist and researcher at the Dekker Huis Museum for several years. She began in January full-time as the museum manager where she will continue to curate powerful exhibits, develop the archival collection and to tell the stories of Zeeland at the museum. Audrey graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University, majoring in Public History and Spanish with a focus in Art History. She is an experienced professional in collections management, including past work in the collections at the Holland Museum.
In March, ZHS welcomed a full-time professional director, Katelyn Bosch VerMerris. VerMerris earned a Master of Arts degree from West Virginia University in Public History with a Cultural Resource Management Certificate as well as a bachelor’s degree from Calvin College with dual majors in History and Strategic Communication. She is an experienced fundraiser and community organizer with previous roles at Resthaven, Saugatuck/Douglas History Center, Lowell Historical Society, and ArtPrize.
“The Zeeland Historical Society has a rich past in the area and has laid great groundwork to tell Zeeland’s story by preserving the area’s history and finding unique ways to tell this story,” VerMerris said. “I am delighted to work with the community to continue this wonderful work.”
The Dekker Huis Museum of Zeeland celebrates its 45th anniversary of preserving the history of Zeeland and its surrounding areas for the future. ZHS operates the Dekker Huis Museum on Main Ave. in Zeeland as well as the 1881 New Groningen Schoolhouse on Paw Paw Drive in Holland Charter Township. This building serves as an educational and community space. VerMerris will be developing programming for children and adults at the museum and schoolhouse, as well as managing the rentals of the 1881 New Groningen Schoolhouse.
ZHS Board President, Debbie Albert, has nothing but positivity for the future of the Zeeland Historical Society. She said, “The Zeeland Historical Society has been privileged to provide a historical museum and educational programs to the community, and we are thrilled to see where this professional leadership will take us. As we move forward, we continue to be better equipped to preserve our treasured past and make important connections to our present and future.”
In seeing the need for professional management of the two properties and enhanced programming for the future, a quiet fund-raising campaign to raise funds for a director's position began in 2019. Led by long-time City of Zeeland Mayor Les Hoogland and retired Zeeland Chamber of Commerce President Ann Query, the opportunity to assist in funding this position was offered to leading businesses and individuals related to the Zeeland area.
Both Query and Hoogland felt that the project offers benefits to tourists, businesses, residents, and schools in the entire Zeeland area and beyond. "We believe it is at the heart of what has built this community into a place that respects the past as an important building block for the future," commented Query. Hoogland responded that he hopes the support of the Zeeland Historical Society continues with gifts of time and talents from an even broader base of smaller businesses and individuals in the community.
The hours of the museum are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 until 5 and on Saturday hours are from 10 until 3. The Schoolhouse is open to the public by appointment. If you would like to schedule a group tour at either of our buildings or would like to inquire about rentals or a program at the schoolhouse, you may call the museum at 616-772-4079.