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Building a better future for the past

Molly Shore

Construction is underway on a two-story addition to the Gordon R.

Howard museum complex on Olive Avenue, and Burbank Historical Society

founder Mary Jane Strickland couldn’t be happier.


“We were out of room and had no place to do any more displays,”

Strickland said of the complex, which houses the historical society.

“We just came to the conclusion that we needed more space.”

When the 7,000-square-foot addition is completed in October,


Strickland said it will give her and her cadre of volunteers the

opportunity to totally renovate existing exhibits and create new


In addition to showcasing a vast array of artifacts donated to the

historical society, Strickland said that Walt Disney Co. and Warner

Bros. will mount new displays in the museum.

Burbank’s history is tied into that of Warner Bros., said Leith

Adams, the studio’s executive director of corporate archives.


“Warner Bros. Studios is excited to share some of [its] costumes,

documents, artifacts and props that were used in making films and

television right down the street for the last seven decades,” Adams


Disney has a small exhibit in the museum that focuses on its

relationship with the city during most of its 80-year history, Disney

spokeswoman Marilyn Waters said.

“The new exhibit will add a fresh element, including interactive


pieces that appeal to children who often visit the museum,” she said.

The construction, which will include covering and enclosing the

existing courtyard, was made possible following a three-year

fund-raising campaign, Strickland said.

Mary M. Howard, the widow of Gordon R. Howard -- a major

benefactor of the historical society -- contributed $100,000 to the

construction fund.

“They have great plans for this additional space,” Howard said. “I

didn’t question them about it. I thought I would just wait and see

and be surprised.”

The museum, at 1015 W. Olive Ave., will close Sept. 14 and reopen

to the public Oct. 19, Strickland said.