President’s Blog: October 2016

Timothy F. Harley

Arriving right on schedule with the calendar date for the start of the autumn season, some comfortably cool air has settled over Indiana County.  Just the first hints of the fall display of color are tinting the summer green of West-central Pennsylvania.  Of course, here in the Christmas Tree Capital of the World— there is always row upon row of evergreens, many that will grace the homes across the country during the upcoming Holiday Season.  Many of our tree growers welcome guests during the fall season, and of course, more so as the Holidays approach.

It’s a great time to plan a visit to the Museum; if you have not seen our special exhibition in honor of the 70th anniversary of the release of the American film classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”—plan on a visit just for this.  Museum collection pieces related to the film are coupled with exceptionally moving e-mails received at the time of Mr. Stewart’s death, and that specifically reference the film and the effect it had on folks near and far. The exhibit also includes the new Dark Hills Mansion poster created in honor of this anniversary, a very handsome piece, indeed.  Several versions of this new poster are now available in our gift shop.

Now, speaking of the Museum store, in my last blog, I mentioned some new items that will carry a quote of James Stewart.  His simple advice to his daughters on their departure to college: “Always remember: be nice to people.”  This simple but sage advice will serve as the motto for our Values Education Initiatives.  Presented in a range of styles, new T-shirts and other items will carry the quote and its message— a great way to remind ourselves and others of the importance of simple civility —something that can truly change lives and our world.  We have sizes from 2XL through youth, and are very excited about a pending delivery of some very fun styled sizes for toddlers—-never too early to teach this lesson!

Our visit with Greg Munro, Paris based film maker went very well, before he traveled off the California to continue his research and do a personal interview with the Stewart’s daughter, Judy.  We hope to have the opportunity to premier this new documentary on the lives of James Stewart and Robert Mitchum here at the museum.

Nancy Empfield has prepared a great line-up of matinees for the month— a great way to spend a chilly Saturday or Sunday.  Nancy has selected a very apropos offering for Halloween Weekend: Stewart and Novak in “Bell, Book and Candle.”

The fall season also signals the start of the semester at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  For us, that means the return of our stellar work-study students.  Sadly, at the close of this semester, we bid congrats and adieu to Stephanie Garrett as she graduates.  Steph has been a delightful and very important addition to our staff—keeping us up to speed with some great input and ideas!

IUP Graduate student, Robert Tucker continues with us on his Graduate Internship; Robert is doing a fantastic job as archivist, getting our extensive collection in its very best order.

On the horizon, is the annual George Bailey Dinner, slated for Saturday November 19th at Indiana’s Rustic Lodge.  Joe Lubold and his great staff are putting together a tempting holiday menu that’s sure to please.  We will also, once again be serenaded by the lovely music provided by “ Simple Pleasures” during our cocktail hour.  Within a short time we will be announcing our 2016 Awardees; great folks who help our mission in many and diverse ways. Be sure to watch for our announcement!

Tim Vanderburg, our Master of Face Book with his seemingly endless knowledge of all things James Stewart, continues to surprise and delight us with his timely and sometimes unexpected posts.  The site is now available directly on our web site at  For us non- Face Book members, there is no sign- in required and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

And not disappointed is what our guests are telling us.  I am very happy to report that individual guest visitation numbers for this period are more than doubled from the same period last year!  Let’s take a quick look at some locations that our guests hail from : Margaret, from Oakdale, PA. Said… “ You have a wonderful museum for a great man, thank you.”  John and Lynn visited from Kittery, Maine; Judith, from Reno, Nevada; Roland from Woodbridge, Va.; the Stutzmans of Newburg, Oregon; Dan and Brenda stopped in from Sugarland, Texas; Joan and John from Montreal, Canada; Don, from Palmdale, CA.; Jennifer and Paul of Seattle say: “A dream come true to visit ! .”  Let’s close with a comment from Sophie…  “We drove almost 4 hours to come here and it was completely worth it!  I love Jimmy Stewart and after coming here I think I love him even more!  This was an amazing experience.”

Now those distances and touching comments convince us every day of the importance and meaningfulness of our mission.  We could have no better endorsements than YOURS !

Hope to see you at the Museum

Thanks for listening,

As ever,