August 6, 2020

Lynda Allen: Exhibiting a Love of History

As public programs coordinator at the James Monroe Museum, Lynda Allen juggles tours, social media, the museum’s newsletter and student education. In her spare time, she’s managed to publish three collections of poetry, a novel and a nonfiction book.

Allen came to the James Monroe Museum five years ago when she stumbled upon an opening for store manager. She says in getting to know America’s fifth president, she’s rekindled a love for history she last exhibited (pun intended) in high school.

Lynda Allen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?

A: I really enjoy the creativity I get to bring to it. That’s something that’s very natural for me. I always need to have a creative outlet.

Q: What’s most challenging?

A: Finding ways to share what I think is a very interesting story and make it relevant today and enticing enough for people to want to come and learn more about it.

Q: It had to be canceled this year because of Hurricane Florence, but the annual Fredericksburg Welsh Festival is one of the museum’s biggest events. What’s it all about?

A: This is the 29th year for the festival, which celebrates all things Welsh. There’s a main stage for music, presentations and Welsh country dancing, and a smaller stage in our garden for presentations on Welsh language and genealogy, and James Monroe attends.

Q: How does it feel to plan an event for 1,200 people only to have it cancelled?

A: It was challenging in many ways. We’ve been planning it in conjunction with the Fredericksburg Welsh Society since early this year. However, we would much rather have people be safe than move forward with an event in potentially dangerous conditions. So, unfortunately, everyone will have to wait until the fall of 2019 for the next Fredericksburg Welsh Festival!

Q: What’s something interesting about James Monroe that most people don’t know?

A: In 1796 he was recalled from his post as minister to France by George Washington. Monroe was upset about the recall, and he wrote a pamphlet called “A View of the Conduct of the Executive,” as his response, which didn’t endear him to Washington. It was unfortunate that they had a falling out, because they both believed so strongly in the revolution and fought together for the cause of independence.

Q: What should UMW students look for from the museum this year?

A: We, along with the staff of the Papers of James Monroe, had the opportunity to work with students in the historic preservation department. Next year is the 200th anniversary of James Monroe’s tour of the southern states. So we created a traveling exhibit which consists of 10 panels about the tour, the places he went and the issues he was looking at. The students in the Museum Exhibitions class designed it, did all the research, picked the colors and went into a lotof detail to create it.

Q: Are there any mantras you live by?

A: My greatest mantra that I try to live by is to do everything with love.