New museum director shares improvements

Mar. 11—LIMA — Christine Fowler Shearer rattled off a few of the changes at the Allen County Museum since she started as full-time director in August.

A new installation of permanent collection galleries. Plans to move the Conestoga wagon. Deep-cleaning the stained glass windows at the MacDonell House. New temporary galleries. Bringing back events like "Life in America." Artists in residence visiting area schools.

"As you can see, I've been pretty busy in my first six months there," Shearer quipped. "We have a lot of changes that we're hoping for, and I hope to see all of you there sooner than later."

Shearer became the interim director at the museum last May, when Amy Craft Klassen left after five years on the job. She provided an update on the Allen County Museum on Monday to the Lima Rotary Club during a speech at Veterans Memorial Civic Center.

Last month, the museum received a $25,000 grant to re-imagine the layout of its galleries on the museum's first floor, including moving the popular Conestoga wagon. She also expressed excitement about finding a portrait by American painter John Singer Sargent in its storage, which will be permanently displayed.

Shearer delivered a delightful litany of temporary displays in the works. The museum hopes to change them out three times a year, with the Mirror Mirror exhibit up through March 23. It shows work by 14 female contemporary artists, focusing on their work as artist and wife or artist and mother.

"It's very narrative. Its scope kind of talks about how they balance both of those career choices," Shearer said. "It's been getting a lot of attention. We've actually had quite a few people come from out of town to see the exhibit, which is one of the things that we want to see happen."

A new display goes up April 25 though July 6, "Chronicles: The Great Depression and the Pandemic," using photography to compare the impact of the Great Depression and the Pandemic. Shearer worked with Arnold Tunstall on the display.

The museum will also continue its series of lectures and popular events, like "Life in America." It won't be able to continue the "Riding the Rails" fundraiser, Shearer regretfully announced, but workers will bring back the "Night at the Museum" events that had been on hold since the pandemic hit in 2020.

There are also other special members-only events and fundraisers to help the museum, including events inside the MacDonell house. People can learn more about all the programs at

Shearer said she's enjoyed the work thus far.

"I had been doing some projects with the museum originally," she said. "I was supposed to step it up to kind of help them get over the hump to a new director, and then I decided I love this job, I love the board and I love the community. So I decided I wanted to stay."

Reach David Trinko at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.