Longtime Director of Education looks forward to continuing to build partnerships in the community, improving visitor experience through reimagined exhibit buildings, and preserving local history
Melissa Prycer, longtime Director of Education at Dallas Heritage Village, was recently named President & Executive Director. She succeeds Gary Smith, who remains at the Village in a part-time capacity, serving as Director of Strategic Projects. During her decade at the Village, she has launched a lecture series, hands-on classes for children, a preschool storytime, numerous collaborative events, and increased school tours. She was also instrumental in the redesign of the General Store exhibit into a hands-on, participatory space. Among other educational outreach accomplishments, she reinvented the Junior Historian program for teens. Over 40 teens are now active volunteers as the museum and have successfully completed exhibits in the Doctor’s Office and Worth Hotel.
“Melissa Prycer’s appointment as Executive Director comes at a very exciting time,” said Don Baynham, Chairman, Board of Directors, Dallas Heritage Village. “The Village is looking forward to growth, we’re about to complete our strategic plan, and the area around us is beginning to develop. Melissa, with her energy, knowledge, and expertise, is the right person, at the right time, in the right place!”
As Executive Director, Prycer looks forward to continuing to build partnerships with the community, particularly in the burgeoning Cedars Neighborhood and Farmer’s Market neighborhood, improving the visitor experience through reimagined exhibit buildings, preserving local history, and providing a place for curious learners of all ages to discover history.
“I never imagined when I came to the Village 10 years ago, I would be in this position today,” said Melissa Prycer. “From Programs Manager to Curator of Education to Director of Education to Associate Director to Interim Executive Director, I have worn many hats and have loved every one of them. The Executive Director hat comes at an exciting time as investment and development dollars are flowing into the Cedars Neighborhood and Farmer’s market area, and Vogel Alcove is moving into the old City Park Elementary. We have new events planned with new partners and exciting renovations ahead for the Depot, Farmstead and Education Building as well as new ideas for programs and exhibits. It is my hope to encourage new visitors to the Village, keeping it a fresh and inviting destination full of opportunities for learning, fun, and discovery.”
Prycer received a bachelor’s degree in history from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and a master’s degree in public history from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Prior to joining Dallas Heritage Village in 2004, she served as research assistant with Plano Heritage Farmstead and as programming assistant with Historic Oak View County Park in North Carolina.
Active professionally, she has served as Secretary and Chair of the Texas Association of Museums Educators’ Committee, made several presentations at the TAM Annual Meeting, and is completing a term as Councilor-at-Large for the Texas Association of Museums. Melissa is also active nationally, serving as a Peer Reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums’ MAP program and on the Small Museums Committee for the American Association of State and Local History. As a historian, she has presented papers for the Dallas History Conference and written book reviews, focusing her interest on women's history and African American history during the early 20th century. She has also published articles in Public History News and History News, as well as a chapter in the book The Intimate Life of L. M. Montgomery.
“It goes without saying that Dallas Heritage Village would not be where it is today without the leadership of my predecessor Gary Smith and such a talented and enthusiastic staff,” added Prycer. “Without question, I have some big shoes to fill but am ready, excited, and grateful for the challenge.”
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Dallas Heritage Village, located at Old City Park, is a nationally accredited history museum, depicting life in Dallas from 1840-1910. It is one of only five museums in the Dallas area to have this distinction. The grounds showcase 38 historic structures, including log cabins, the pre-Civil War Millermore home, a Victorian Main Street, a railroad complex, an 1860s farmstead with livestock, a 19th century church, school and more. Visitors discover how crops were grown, animals cared for and how family living progressed from log cabins to grand manors and Victorian homes. Dallas Heritage Village is supported, in part, by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts as well as individual and group donations. Dallas Heritage Village was nominated in 2011 and 2012 by D Magazine as one of the top Dallas-area family attractions. It is located at 1515 South Harwood, one block south of Farmers Market in Downtown Dallas. Hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 4 p.m. The Village is closed the months of January and August. Regular admission is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors 65+ and $5 for children ages 4-12. Children under 4 and members of Dallas Heritage Village are admitted free of charge. For more information call 214-421-5141 or visit www.DallasHeritageVillage.org