Music and laughter echoed down the halls of the Campus Martius Museum Friday evening as the museum opened its doors for a special after hours gala.
Hosted by Friends of the Museums, the group which manages the Campus Martius and Ohio River museums, the goal of the event was to showcase the exhibits and give attendees a preview of upcoming displays, said Friends board member Nancy Hollister.
"There aren't going to be any speeches. Tonight is to move you through the museum and show off all it has to offer," she said.
More than 100 guests attended the fundraiser for the museums, which operate on a combined annual budget of $304,000.
"We always enjoy history. We are lucky to have such a nice museum here in Marietta," said Joe Wesel, who attended the event with wife Kathy.
Kathy Wesel said she was a fan of the educational offerings for area youth.
"All of the things they do for the kids are just great," she said.
Guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and toured the museum's exhibits, both new and old.
New to the museum Friday evening were a pair of murals depicting significant events in Marietta's storied history, explained Marietta City Councilman Harley Noland.
One shows Marietta's founding father Rufus Putnam signing a contract while the other shows Putnam receiving a visit from an Indian chief.
The paintings, which had previously hung in the Marietta City Building on Putnam Street, were part of a series of 12 paintings commissioned by Marietta officials in 1937 for the city's sesquicentennial. With renovation likely in the city building's future, Friends of the Museum board member Jean Yost had asked the city to loan the paintings to the museum for display.
"The idea is we are going to have to renovate and what better place to store these wonderful works of art than here at Campus Martius," said Noland.
The museum has only taken possession of two of the smallest paintings so far, but will eventually play host to all 12. The hope is that the historic paintings will draw both local and out of town visitors to the museum. It will also enable the city to have the murals cleaned and restored.
"This is the first time they've been off the walls since 1937," said Noland.
Barlow resident Steve Hill and his mother Lila Hill, of Marietta, said they were excited to take in the Civil War display, "Touched by Conflict." The relatively new exhibit opened in July and highlights Marietta's contributions and sacrifices during the war, explained historian Bill Reynolds.
"A lot of these things are privately owned. So this might be your only chance to ever see them," explained Reynolds.
In addition the exhibit, several actors in Civil War-era garb wandered around the event and Columbus musician Steve Ball performed music Civil War music.
The event was a great chance to showcase what the Friends of the Museums have accomplished with the museum since they took over contractual management three years ago, said Hollister.
"This is where we came from and this is where we are," she said.
Coming up at the museum is "Pioneer Style Celebrations" which will feature pioneer interpreters speaking about their holiday traditions. It will take place Dec. 2 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.