Giving Thanks: Meet The Wilbur D. May Center

Wilbur D. May Museum
Image: Wilbur D. May Museum.

Editor’s note: This Is Reno would like to thank the businesses and organizations that have been supportive of us in the recent past. To say thanks, we offered our ongoing advertisers space to introduce themselves to the other fine folks who keep our operation alive and growing — you, our readers. We’ll be running these features throughout December. Thank you for your support. – Bob

What is the May Museum?

The May Center is a museum, arboretum, botanical garden, and gift store. Our mission is to preserve the life and legacy of Wilbur May, and we strive to be a place where Wilbur’s story will inspire visitors of all ages. The May Center exists because of a unique partnership between Washoe County and the May Foundation. Thanks to this partnership, Wilbur’s amazing collection of artifacts has been open to the public for more than 30 years, the Arboretum has grown into a jewel of Reno, and we regularly host exhibits, art shows, and special programs year-round.

What has the museum accomplished in recent years?

We’re proud to be a place where tourists come when they visit Reno, a place where locals go to see what’s new, and a destination for school groups from all over northern Nevada. In recent years, we really challenged ourselves to shake things up. We wanted to be better internally, but also to offer more to the public. And it’s paying off. The Arboretum now has a level 2 accreditation and is getting close to level 3. The gardens and groves have expanded, and new features have been added. The Museum is bringing in amazing exhibitions and, behind the scenes, making improvements to be a better steward to Wilbur’s collection. It’s been exciting to experiment and try new things.

What does the museum offer?

There’s something here for everyone. We really try to create an annual calendar that is packed with events, programs, and attractions for visitors of all ages. We’re not the biggest museum in Reno, but we offer a lot. We hope people not only support us but all the museums in Reno. The value that museums bring to a community is immeasurable. We’re not just collectors of old things, though we do a bit of that! Museums preserve our history and our stories. They foster curiosity, inspire creativity, and challenge visitors. Museums are an essential part of the social fabric of a community. Don’t ever forget that museums belong to everybody! Unfortunately, most museums are woefully underfunded. That’s why public support is so necessary.

What are you most proud of?

Personally, I am most proud of the multi-generational connection we’ve made in the community. We regularly have adults come in and tell us that they remember coming to the museum when they were a kid. Now they’re bringing their children here! It is so rewarding to see Wilbur’s legacy continue on and to see the look of wonder on a first-time visitors face. I’m also so proud of our small, but passionate team. Everyone that works here loves Wilbur and is genuinely excited to work here.

How can people get ahold of you?

Samantha Szesciorka, Assistant Curator, (775) 785-5961 / www.maycenter.com / www.facebook.com/wilburmaycenter

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