FAIRMOUNT — If the new president of the Fairmount Historical Museum were a cartoon character, his feet would be drawn in constant motion like Garfield in his tennis shoes. That’s because months before his official start in January, Cole Reeves took steps to transform and modernize the museum. When the doors reopen for the season April 1, visitors will notice that much has changed.
It helped that Reeves was already familiar with the museum, which hosts the annual James Dean Festival, scheduled for September 26-28 this year. Reeves is a furniture restoration expert and has volunteered since 2004, starting with “handyman stuff.”
“We get so focused on the festival, and other stuff, we forget to look at the museum,” Reeves said.
Reeves has beefed up the Garfield exhibit room, by making a visit to Kim Beasley at Paws, Inc, in Albany, the business owned by Jim Davis, Garfield’s creator.
“It was before Thanksgiving,” Reeves said. “We went over to talk to them about increasing Garfield’s presence. When we got over there, she had already pulled most of this off the shelves and boxed it. Paws has been so good to us.”
Beasley said the items are on permanent loan, courtesy of Davis, a 1963 Fairmount High School graduate.
“Jim enjoyed growing up in the bucolic setting of the farm near Fairmount and many of his friends and family still live there. I chose the pieces that had some connection with the area. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at The Ohio State University has comic books and a few other items, but the Fairmount museum has the most items from our collection anywhere.”
There are about 50 figures of the famous cartoon cat, posed in all kinds of humorous situations. The approximately 8-inch-tall, meticulously detailed creations are manufacturers’ original prototypes of the products. Plus, there are two drawing boards from Davis, with a photo of him at work attached to one.