Special to the Bulletin
The city of Brownwood has named Mary Irving as the director of the Martin and Francis Lehnis Railroad Museum
Irving comes to Brownwood from the Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple, where she served as curator and director for 22 years.
“I helped develop the museum in Temple into the third-largest railroad museum in Texas,” Irving said Wednesday. “It went from a staff of one to a staff of six in the time I was there.”
Irving’s education includes a degree in art/art history with a specialty in museum science from West Chester State College in Pennsylvania.
Her postgraduate work includes the Texas Historical Commission/University of Texas Winedale Museum Seminar, a 140-hour intense museum training seminar. She also received training in collections management and preservation from the American Association for State and Local History.
Under her guidance, the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum was recognized as one of the best railroad museums in Texas by Texas Highways Magazine, and received awards for its exhibits, educational programs and community involvement from the Texas Association of Museums and the Texas Historical Commission.
In addition, in 2005, Irving was awarded the Texas Historical Commission John L. Nau III Award of Excellence in Museums, the highest award given to museum professionals in Texas. In 1990, Irving was given the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Texas Cultural and Historical Resources Citation of Honor (given to 25 Texans annually) for outstanding contributions to the preservation of Texas history.
“I look at this place and I see a lot of potential,” Irving said of the Lehnis Railroad Museum. “I can see in my head what this can become, but I would love help from those who know or who can find out about the Brownwood railroad history.”
The Martin and Francis Lehnis Railroad Museum is scheduled for its grand opening during the Brownwood Reunion Celebration, set for Sept. 14-16. To prepare for the grand opening, Irving is looking for volunteers to help set up new exhibits, the museum’s library, and work on building some of the exhibit areas. The museum will need carpenters, painters and railroad employees (both current and retired) to help set up the railroad equipment in good working order.
“I truly look forward to developing this museum into a place the people can be proud of,” Irving said.
In addition to volunteers, the museum is looking for donations of railroad-related photographs, papers and equipment for displays, especially those relating to the Brownwood area. Photographs can also be scanned at the museum so the originals can remain with the original owners if desired.
For information on becoming a charter member of the museum, call 643-6376.