Press-Republican

October 11, 2011

New manager heads BOPA Museum

'This is an amazing facility here'

JEFF MEYERS
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — As a child, Tammy Rock developed a keen interest in history.

Her family did not have a TV, so she would read a lot, visiting the local library weekly to bring home an armful of books. The lives of historical figures and everyday people from long ago fascinated her.

However, those childhood interests took a backseat as she began to raise a family of her own and start her career.

After earning her associate's degree in accounting in 1996, Rock found work as an office manager. She later decided to go back to school and earn a bachelor's degree.

"I enrolled in business administration at Plattsburgh State," she said. "But during that first semester, I took a history class that must have awakened something dormant inside me. I loved history in high school, but this was the first time I considered it as a career choice."

With renewed focus, she pursued her degree with a concentration in museum studies.

That decision translated into Rock's new position as manager of the Battle of Plattsburgh Museum at the PARC Museum Complex on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

'Amazing Facility'

The museum features several exhibits heralding the region's role in the War of 1812, including the successful Battle of Plattsburgh, when American troops defeated a much larger invading British fleet on Cumberland Bay. That's a feat that many historians believe was the turning point of the war.

With past internships at Blue Mountain Lake Museum, Fort Ticonderoga and the Plattsburgh State Art Collection, Rock developed skills in promoting museum collections for visitors of all ages.

"This is an amazing facility here," she said of the Battle of Plattsburgh Museum. "I can't give enough credit to the people who have done so much with this jewel.

When she first visited the museum during her first semester of college at Plattsburgh State, it was located in the small building across the road from where it is now.

"It's amazing to me how much they've done in moving over to this much larger space."

Rock credits her smooth transition to museum manager to her predecessor Kristina Parker-Wingler, who is stepping down to raise a family and return to work at the family business.

Museum programs

One of Rock's goals is to develop hands-on projects for children and families, especially during winter, when there are fewer opportunities to bring programs and historical reenactments to the area.

For instance, Rock admires the work of the Adirondack Spinners wool-making project and aims to host similar programs.

She will also carry on a series of genealogy workshops. Saturday the museum will host "Find Your War of 1812 Ancestors," including presentations from Mal Cutaiar, Sharon Bell, Keith Herkalo, Anastasia Pratt, Julie Dowd, Pam Meyers and Jack Bilow.

She believes in promoting the entire museum complex, including the Clinton County Museum and Champlain Valley Transportation Museum. All three facilities will be open comparable hours, and all will participate in a Museum Shopping Night on Dec. 8.

But most importantly, Rock looks to share her excitement and enthusiasm for American history with visitors. "No matter what hurdles are put in front of a person, it is possible to make your dreams come true with hard work and faith," she said. "I have always loved museums and history and often thought it would be neat to work at one. And here I am.

"Dreams do come true."

Email Jeff Meyers at: jmeyers@pressrepublican.com