Sheldon Prairie Museum Security

The new security system at Sheldon Prairie Museum has a high-quality camera in every room that feed into a display at the front desk. The museum has undergone several safety and security upgrades since 2019 including new smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors.

SHELDON—The humble Sheldon Prairie Museum went high-tech and installed its new arsenal of security cameras, tripling its number of video recorders.

The project was completed in February and cost about $26,000.

The Sheldon Historical Society, which runs entirely on donations and memorial funds, paid for half as one of the two groups that oversee the museum. The publicly funded museum board picked up the rest of the bill. Director Millie Vos is a member of the two groups.

“We had security cameras, but they weren’t the latest,” Vos said. “We didn’t get pictures where we could really see people’s faces or anything like that.”

The outdated system only had five cameras with none placed outside the building. Besides guarding against break-ins and theft, the new recorders help allay safety concerns.

Vos said that if there has been a fall, either inside the museum or on the steps outside, the liability hassle has been difficult since there was little usable footage and the old cameras only covered a few rooms.

“You need to have something to confirm some of this,” she said. “And now, we have the latest, but it really was an expensive deal.”

The server that hosts the new security system, which Vos called “really outstanding,” was the biggest bulk of the cost. The network connects the 15 cameras and centralizes them at the front desk, where volunteers can keep track of every nook and cranny without getting up.

“We have some extremely expensive things in the museum,” Vos said. “We have some diaries from the Civil War which are very, very, very valuable, and we are the only ones who have them. We even have a special case to preserve them.”

She went on to say that some major museums have inquired about the 1860s’ artifacts, but she said Sheldon is not giving them up. Exhibiting pieces that appraised in the tens of thousands of dollars made investing in protection an easy choice in her view.

The longtime historian said there was some pushback on spending so much on the project, but Vos argued the high-end equipment should last the museum for a long time. The old system was not sustainable, she said, and the future is more secure because of the project.

The cameras are part of an ongoing effort to modernize the building and improve safety in the building. In 2019, the museum fashioned the doors with better locks and installed new smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors.

The security camera upgrade was scheduled for November last year, but a COVID-19 case spike around that time caused delays.

With the essentials finally addressed, Vos said she is looking into renovations for some of the worn-out flooring as the next thing to fix up.

Vos said the updated technology provides peace of mind. And as one of Sheldon’s top preservationists, she will always be around if there’s trouble.

“If something does go wrong, then I’m notified,” she said.