Photo courtesy of Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society
Guests look at the banner stands on display as part of the Museum of Woodhaven History.

If a student sitting in a second-story classroom on the east side of the Franklin K. Lane Educational Campus gazes out the window toward Woodhaven while daydreaming today, they will see nothing but rows and rows of adjoined houses. But 100 years ago, a student in that some seat might have caught a glimpse of Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig playing a game on Dexter Field right outside.

That’s just one of the many interesting facts people will learn when the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society launches its Museum of Woodhaven History on May 3. The mobile exhibit will be on display at the Woodhaven Manor, where guests will see 25 banner stands covered in photography and writings that detail the unique history of the neighborhood.

Ed Wendell, executive director of the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society, said the primary reason for creating the exhibit was to simply engage people in conversations about the neighborhood’s interesting past.

Even our recent history is in danger of being forgotten and evaporating,” Wendell said. “This is an effort to bring the history of the community to everybody in a fun, unique way.”

The museum’s unique quality is its mobility. It has no physical address or specific set of walls to contain it. Instead, the 6-foot-tall banners only weigh about two pounds each and can be easily folded up and transported from location to location as a “pop-up museum,” as Wendell put it.

Because of that mobility, Wendell said the hope is to loan the banner stands out to local schools that want to use them for events or lessons on local history.

All 25 of the panels were created over the course of about nine months, in large part because the historical society had already done the majority of the research and compiling of photos for other projects, Wendell said. The biggest challenge involved learning how to use a different computer program to design the panels before sending them to the printing company, he added.

Photo courtesy of Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society

Photo courtesy of Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society

The panels, which cost about $100 each, were funded by the City Council discretionary funds and a grant from the Citizen’s Committee for New York City.

The display has only been assembled with all of the panels one time, Wendell said, and the people who saw it “were floored by it.” Each one has its own theme, such as Dexter Field, famous Woodhaven natives, the cyclone of 1895 and a map that shows how street names have changed in the neighborhood over time. Wendell said the historical society wants to create a book someday, and this display is somewhat of a preview.

The museum is kind of like reading the book, but you’re walking around with people, pointing things out and learning things,” Wendell said.

The launch party will also include a few extra features. A few of the banners have already been loaned out to two local schools, and Wendell said the historical society gave art supplies to the schools to have students make drawings and paintings influenced by the banners. Some of those works of art will be on display, as well as some physical artifacts and other surprises, Wendell said.

After the launch party, the historical society will continue working with local schools and display the mobile museum at street fairs and other community events. Wendell also said he hopes to get some other locations on board such as the Resorts World Casino, especially since there is a panel dedicated to the Aqueduct Racetrack.

The May 3 launch party will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. with free admission, light refreshments and a brief ceremony at 6 p.m. where local elected officials and other invited guests will make brief statements.


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