Veterans Memorial Museum to reopen with new displays

Veterans Memorial Museum to reopen with new displays

Glenn Dusablon, museum founder, stands in the recently renovated library at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Woonsocket. The museum will reopen this Saturday, Sept. 12. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)

WOONSOCKET – After nearly six months, the Veterans Memorial Museum on Earle Street is reopening to visitors this Saturday, Sept. 12.

The opening, which comes on the heels of the Patriot Day observance on Sept. 11, will include new restrictions for the COVID-19 era. Visitors are expected to sign in and wear masks and touching of any items is not allowed.

“We have to maintain the safety part of it,” said museum founder Glenn Dusablon.

Dusablon said he’s glad to have people back in the building again after many quiet months. Like most other museums and venues, the Veterans Memorial Museum shut its doors abruptly in mid-March due to COVID-19.

“We didn’t have any choice,” he explained.

Like other organizations, Dusablon has taken advantage of the quiet months to perform some updates around the building. A former classroom and storage room is now a library where guests can peruse history books about veterans or sit down to watch a video.

The room will be named for Herbert Francis Joslin, a local Army veteran whose son-in-law offered to fund the renovation after Joslin visited for his 90th birthday. Joslin served during the Korean War and was also a member of the military police present for the Nuremberg Trials following World War II.

Another addition is a Woonsocket room dedicated solely to service members from the city. Though the museum previously had local artifacts scattered throughout its collection, Dusablon said the new room will allow visitors to search directly through Woonsocket history.

Among the items included in the room is the uniform of Brig. Gen. Herbert Sanford Tanner, a Rhode Island National Guard commander who served during the Spanish-American War. The collection also includes the medals of Sylvain Dugas, a city native who was buried in Hawaii and whose medals went up for auction in Utah before they made their way back to Rhode Island.

The collection also includes items from the home front, such as a book of World War II sewing projects that belonged to resident Jessie Carroll.

At the entrance to the room, a sign and partial list of names pays tribute to Woonsocket service members who were lost in combat. The list once hung in the Museum of Work and Culture and has now become a part of the Veterans Memorial Museum collection.

Though he’s looking forward to welcoming visitors, Dusablon said things won’t be entirely back to normal. The museum often hosts school field trips, something that will likely remaining on pause due to ongoing restrictions with opening schools.

“It’ll be nice to have people back. To me, it’s more important to have kids come because they’ll learn things they won’t learn in school,” he said.

The museum is open Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is free for veterans and students.

The American-French Genealogical Society, which is also located in the former First Universalist Church on Earle Street, will remain closed due to COVID-19.