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Museum job puts director in touch with great people
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Photo: Gary Krambeck/gkrambeck@qconline.com
Karpeles Manuscript Library Director John Snow.
John Snow studied computer information systems and then managed the Bettendorf Holiday Inn for eight years before becoming director of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Rock Island.

"I had nothing to do with museums or manuscripts or libraries at all, and so I just kind of fell into this job," he said. "I had some experience with management, and that's kind of the direction they were looking for."

In 2011, Mr. Snow responded to an ad seeking an office worker at the new Karpeles Museum at 700 22nd St., Rock Island.

The museum is in the 100-year-old former Christian Science Church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was vacant for several years before it was bought and renovated by Karpeles, a national chain of 12 museums in 10 states founded in 1983.

The museums boast the world's largest collection of original manuscripts and documents, amassed over 40 years by museum founders Dr. David and Marsha Karpeles.

The first exhibition at the Rock Island museum was a collection of manuscripts related to author Mark Twain.

An exhibition of manuscripts related to the beginning of the Civil War is currently on display, and, later this year, there will be an exhibition of historic items related to professional baseball that will correspond with the Hometown Heroes exhibit at the Rock Island Public Library.

"I like the ability to see a lot of these older documents, things that a lot of other people probably wouldn't ever get a chance to see," Mr. Snow said. "I appreciate the fact that Dr. Karpeles has made them available to us."

Mr. Snow still is overseeing renovations at the museum, with work on the 700-seat auditorium on the second floor almost complete.

"Pretty much everything is complete up there minus some cleanup," said Mr. Snow, who lives in Rock Island. "Hopefully, it will be used as a meeting space, recital hall, for events and possibly even weddings."

Mr. Snow said Dr. Karpeles, who lives in California and recently celebrated his 78th birthday, compiles the exhibits himself even though he has not visited the Rock Island museum.

"I really don't do much with the manuscripts themselves, other than set up the exhibits," Mr. Snow said. "Dr. Karpeles is the person who compiles the exhibits, puts it all together and sends it to us, so I just make sure it's all set up the way he would like it."

In addition to his duties at the museum, where he supervises three employees, Mr. Snow also works as a supervisor at UPS Freight in Rock Island.

He grew up in the Quad-Cities, attended East Moline Christian School and then studied computer information systems at Maranatha Baptist Bible College.

Mr. Snow said the best thing about his role at the museum is the people the job has allowed him to meet.

He praised members of the Broadway Historic District, with whom he has worked closely, and city staff, and he predicts the museum will have a bright future in Rock Island.









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  Today is Friday, Aug. 22, the 234th day of 2014. There are 131 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The ferry boat, Rock Island, having been put in good order at the boat yard is now making her regular trips, much to the gratification of those who have to cross the river.
1889 -- 125 years ago: W.J. Gamble, for many years superintendent of the Moline & Rock Island railway, leased the Fourth Avenue Hotel and renovated and refurnished it throughout.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Pending the building of new public schools or additions to the present ones to provide adequate room for all the children, the board of education decided that pupils younger than 6 years old would not be accepted in Rock Island schools.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The fifth annual New Windsor Fair and Horse show, which has been delayed for two days because of unfavorable weather, got off to a new start last night. The parade was held this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island County Fair and Rodeo will celebrate its silver anniversary this year. The fair opens Tuesday and will run through Saturday and offers entertainment and activity for young and old.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Earl Hanson School, Rock Island, joins the Program to Assist Latch Key Student, which aids working parents. PALS is a before and after school program for grades 1-6 in certain Rock Island public and private schools.




(More History)