In an effort to increase involvement of students in the work of the Museum, the Student Museum Board was founded in the spring of 1990 by Gary H. Darden'91, senior history major from Dallas, Texas. The group was structured in a similar manner to other existing student organizations, whose purpose was to foster the work of the College, such as the Student Admissions Committee and the Student Development Committee. The initial goal was to increase visitation, especially by students, to encourage students to become members of the Museum Associates, and to increase the knowledge of and interest in the history of the College.
The first Student Museum Board was comprised of twenty students, chosen through an interview process conducted by Mrs. Esther T. Atkinson, Founder of the Museum, Dr. Graves H. Thompson '27, Professor of Classics and Secretary of the Museum Board, and Gary H. Darden, Class of 1991. At the spring meeting of the governing Museum Board, an amendment to the by-laws was made appointing the Chairman of the Student Museum Board an ex-officio member.
The new organization began its work in the fall of 1990, devoting at least one hour each week to the work of the Museum. Their objectives included providing articles of historical significance of the College to The Tiger, organizing Museum events during major home football games, sponsoring lectures, and encouraging rhetoric papers on the College's history.
The Student Museum Board continues to be a firmly established student organization on the campus today and plays a critical role in the life and work of the Atkinson Museum.
Student Board Mission Statement
The mission of the Esther Thomas Atkinson Student Museum Board is to assist in promoting, interpreting, and preserving the rich history of Hampden-Sydney College and its unique role in the history of Virginia and the United States of America. Through the commitment of student volunteers, the Board shall work with the Director/Curator of the Museum to support and enhance the educational mission of the Museum and the College.