The mission of the Venice Museum & Archives is to collect, preserve, and interpret historical and prehistorical material relating to the city of Venice and its neighboring communities. The 30,000+ items within the collection are housed at the Julia Cousins Laning and Dale Laning Archives & Research Center and are available upon request to view. Additionally, the Venice Museum & Archives offers online resources such as our Online Collections Database and Flickr (both free to view online), and Venice Gondolier Digital Newspaper Collection (free to view at Archives & Research Center by appointment or $29.99 annually to view at home).
Hundreds of people, organizations, businesses, events, and places are represented in the collections. Some popular local subjects include:
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
Fred Albee and Louella Albee
Historic districts and properties
History of Laurel, Nokomis, Osprey
John Nolen Plan for Venice
Kentucky Military Institute (winter quarters in Venice, 1933-1970)
Local fossils, shark’s teeth
Lumber and turpentine industries
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Venice Circus Arena
Tourism, historic hotels
Venice Army Air Base, World War II
Venice High School, Venice-Nokomis High School
Venice in the 1920s
Venice-Nokomis Woman’s Club
Walter Farley (Venice resident, author of The Black Stallion)
Researching the collections
One of the main goals of the Venice Museum & Archives is to make its collections accessible to the public for research. In this effort, offsite access is available through an online database. Records are added monthly and the collection is searchable online. Click the button below to enter the Past Perfect portal. If you see an image you wish to order, Email Curator Jon Watson.
Searching the entire database is possible onsite through the use of the museum’s visitor computer. VMA staff is available to answer specific requests for information.
Donating materials to the collections
At this time, the VMA is unable to accept large donations of materials due to a lack of available storage space. Staff is in the process of upgrading a newly acquired facility to house museum materials. If you are interested in donating items to the collection, please contact Curator Jon Watson.
The item(s) must meet the following criteria:
- Are owned by you and not by someone else
- Relate in a significant way to the history or prehistory of Venice, Laurel, Nokomis and/or Osprey
- Are in good condition (with no extraordinary conservation needs); can be adequately stored and cared for by the museum
- If accepted by the VMA, the donation must be free of donor-imposed restrictions
Please note: Items that are an unnecessary duplication in the museum’s collection or for which the museum anticipates no foreseeable use for exhibition, research, education, or exchange, will not be accepted. Donations of historical material to the museum are processed in accordance with museum standards for proper documentation and care. All items added to the collection are cataloged into a searchable database and collections are stored in a climate-controlled environment, in archival quality materials, to ensure their long-term preservation.
The manuscript collection consists of personal papers, photographs, oral histories, correspondence, diaries and scrapbooks, as well as the records of organizations and businesses. These materials provide researchers with an insight into the lives of people and the development of the Venice area. More than 200 individuals, businesses and organizations are represented in the collection.
Other formats, besides documents, include audiovisual material such as:
Film (8mm, 16mm, VHS tapes, DVDs, digital mpeg files)
Reel to reel, audio cassette tapes, compact discs, and digital video discs
Property abstracts, maps and plats, architectural drawings
Genealogical information, including family trees and census records
The municipal archives for the City of Venice includes tax digests from 1927-1967 and record groups pertaining to various City of Venice departments. The Street File Collection includes information about and photographs of individual properties of historical significance in Venice, Laurel, Nokomis, and Osprey.
The VMA’s library collection of published materials is available to the public for onsite reference only and is not part of a lending library system. Examples of the types of materials in the museum’s collection include:
The Venice News newspapers (1926-1928)
Venice Gondolier newspapers (bound volumes from 1946-1986)
Assorted local periodicals and newspaper clippings
Books (nonfiction, fiction)
Yearbooks (including Venice-Nokomis High School, Venice High School, Venice Middle School, and Kentucky Military Institute)
Commercially produced films, television segments and documentaries on DVD relating to local history
The VMA has a varied and fascinating array of objects–from the city’s original 1926 fire truck “Old Betsy,” to instruments and equipment used by Dr. Fred Albee in Venice’s first teaching hospital. Highlights from the object collection are:
- Clothing and textiles
- Fine art (including the public art collection on display at Venice City Hall)
- Other assorted historical artifacts originally belonging to individuals, organizations and businesses, such as medical and office equipment, tools, household items, building materials, and recreational items
A picture can tell a thousand words and thousands of pictures can tell a community’s story. Images in the VMA’s collection date from early settler days (including photos by Thomas Wrede, who took some of the earliest photos of the area in the early 1900s) to photos of the recent beach renourishment project in 2015.
The largest VMA photographic collections include the Woody Thayer Collection (1940s-1970s); Venice Gondolier Collection (1965-1988); and Sunshine Press Collection (1958-1979). Highlights from the VMA’s photographic collections are often featured in the museum’s current exhibits and are shared weekly on the museum’s Facebook page.
Examples of the types of formats in the museum’s collection include:
- Printed photographs, contact sheets, large format aerials, digital formats on compact disc
- Negatives (35mm, glass, acetate)
- 35mm slides
- Postcards dating from circa 1926 to the present
Many images from the VMA’s collections are available for reproduction. If you see an image you wish to order, Email Curator Jon Watson.