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Renfrew gets new curator

January 21, 1998

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

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By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -Jeffrey Bliemeister has a bachelor's degree in history, a master's in museum studies and a year's experience as the curator of a historic house and site in Cooperstown, N.Y.

He also has some strong ideas about the future of the Renfrew Park and Museum.

All that was enough for the museum's search committee to decide that Bliemeister was the right choice for the job of curator.

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Bliemeister, 34, started his new job this week as the Renfrew's first curator since the resignation of James Smith in July. Bliemeister moved to a rented house in Waynesboro last week with his wife, Jenifer, and two children, Maxfield, 22 months, and Emily, 8 weeks.

Renfrew, at 1010 East Main St., Waynesboro, began as the 150-acre farm of tanner Daniel Royer in 1790. Today it is 107 acres of farmland, woodland and meadow. Fifty acres are dedicated to a wilderness and wildlife preserve with 50 tree species, 100 wildflower species and 120 species of birds. There is also a 5-acre picnic ground and 150-seat pavilion.

Renfrew's centerpiece is an 1812 stone farmhouse that houses the museum plus a visitor's center, barns and other dependencies.

Renfrew is owned by the Borough of Waynesboro and overseen by a seven-member board. Four members represent the Borough Council and three are appointed by a local bank that serves as the trustee. The bank manages the endowment that pays for upkeep of the museum and park, according to George Buckey, a member of the board.

Buckey said Bliemeister was picked from a slate of 76 applicants. Four were interviewed. "He was the most qualified and had the most experience," Buckey said. "We felt that he will bring a sense of direction."

Bliemeister said he was looking for a new position when he saw Renfrew's ad for a curator in a trade magazine. His salary will be about $29,000 a year. His duties will include fund raising, publicity and the development and management of the museum's collection of early 19th century decorative arts and furniture. He will also direct the museum's two full-time staffers.

He said he is bringing many new ideas to the job. "I want to develop a web site and put Renfrew on the Internet for publicity," he said.

He said he wants the whole farmstead to be used more. "My long-range plan is to revitalize and expand Renfrew, to let people from all over discover what a jewel we have here."

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