HIGHLANDS – Visitors to the Twin Lights earlier this month were pleasantly surprised to discover a very different-looking Twin Lights Museum.
Gone are the bulky showcases of old, replaced by a bright, airy and inviting exhibit hall featuring a new hardwood floor and artifacts from the Twin Lights Historical Society archives.
“The July 4th reopening actually took us a bit by surprise,” said Mary Jo Kenny, president of the historical society. “Initially, we were told that the museum would not be ready for the public until later in the summer. However, workers from the state, county and parks pulled together and transformed this space in just a few weeks. Our holiday weekend reopening went right down to the wire, but it turned out great!”
On display in the museum’s main exhibit hall are several items that have never before been shown to the public, including a lifejacket recovered from the ill-fated S.S. Morro Castle, a life ring off the 1930s-era Staten Island Ferry Miss New York and a flag from 1893 that covers an entire wall.
“The flag is not only visually stunning, but also significant to the Twin Lights’ role in the American experience,” said Mark Stewart, the society’s collections co-chair. “It was at the Twin Lights in 1893 that a flag very much like this was raised atop the 130-foot Liberty Pole to celebrate the first reading of the Pledge of Allegiance as the country’s official oath of loyalty. We have newspapers on display that describe this event and the celebrations that followed in New York Harbor. It’s an important part of New Jersey history that we will be promoting in the near future.”
Other exhibits at the Twin Lights Museum include a 19th-century account of the Battle of Navesink, which was the first battle of the Revolutionary War in Monmouth County, the history of the Highlands Bridge, and the stabilization effort on the original Marconi wireless cottage. There are also video presentations about the 1827 wreck of the Aurora off Sandy Hook, local lifesaving history and the Pledge of Allegiance.
The summer exhibit is a precursor to even bigger changes slated for this fall, when the Twin Lights Museum will mount a special exhibit, entitled Seeing Stars, which will feature rare flags and other patriotic artifacts. Guiding the museum’s redesign is John Williams, whose nationally known exhibits include One Day in Pompeii, Titanic: Treasures from the Deep, and Stars & Stripes: An American Story.
The museum will be open seven days a week until work begins on Seeing Stars. As always, parking and admission is free and the spectacular North Tower is open to the public, weather permitting.
Additional information or directions to the Lighthouse are available by calling 732-872–1814 or logging on to www.twinlightslighthouse.com.