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Long Island Artifact Museum Opens at JFK High School in Plainview-Old Bethpage

Museum Made Possible With a Grant From the LI Index

The new Long Island Artifacts Museum at Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School opened recently. The museum, created by Nick Ventimiglia, a social studies teacher at the school, was made possible by a grant from the Long Island Index for the development of a program that engages Long Island students in learning more about the region. The museum will be utilized by students in the Plainview-Old Bethpage district and will be available, by appointment, to school groups from other districts.

Ventimiglia was inspired to create the museum after taking classes from local historian Beverly Tyler and believes that the museum’s exhibits will be an excellent supplement to the new course he has created called, “Long Island’s History Through its Economics”, and a great project for JFK’s students.

The first exhibit entitled “Tools of the Trade” spans over 300 years of Long Island history, and includes farming implements, medical instruments, fishing and manufacturing tools used on Long Island. The oldest artifact in the museum is a tobacco shearer from the 1700s. Other objects are from Native American cultures, the Industrial Revolution and the Great Depression. Most of the items on display are on loan from a private collector and will be rotated each semester.

The students studied the history of farming and industry on Long Island in order to learn more about the donated relics. As part of the project they used their research to create the placards that describe each of the articles and researched patent information to date several items.

Rochelle Morgan, an art teacher at the school, worked with her students to create the montage of Long Island scenes that wrap around the exhibit. The school’s marketing club, DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) will be taking over the business of running the museum next year including running tours, creating a website and outreach programs, raising funds and developing new programs as the exhibits are rotated.

“We are trying to make it an interactive learning experience for kids outside of the classroom” said Ventimiglia. “Our goal is to make this fun every year. We’re going to come back in September with a whole new set of artifacts.” The next exhibit will be called “Long Island Leisure: Games, Toys, Recreation and Sports of the Last 200 Years.”

Gerard Dempsey, superintendent of Schools, commentated that “the development and launch of the museum was a unique and remarkable achievement. It involved several departments, numerous students and a variety of disciplines all working together to accomplish a common goal. I am very proud of everyone who participated. Every student will benefit from this extraordinary learning experience.”

From fourth-graders who are learning about local history, to seventh-graders learning about New York State history, Ventimiglia says that he “is confident that the museum will benefit all 5,400 students in the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district, because the museum brings history to life.”