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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 Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The Rock Island Paper Mill is now operating. It is an establishment which our people ought to encourage by saving all rags for the mill, where you can get cash and the highest prices for them.
1889 -- 125 years ago: E. W. Robinson purchased from J.T. Miller the livery stable on the triangle south of Market Square.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Henry Kramer was elected president of the Tri-City Typothetae Franklin Club, which took the place of the Tri-City Ben Franklin Club.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Floyd Furh, Illinois City, was first-place winner in the second annual Gov. Horner Farm floral contest.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Nearly 4,000 people are expected to attend weekend sessions of the Jehovah's Witnesses Assembly being held at the Masonic Temple.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The B-29 Super-Fortress bomber is impressive looking, and it did the job during World War II. Its claim to fame is dropping the atomic bombs in Japan to end the war. Only one B-29 is operational in the world today. It is on display at the Quad City Airport in Moline until Friday.






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