CHATHAM – The Chatham Historical Society has awarded a special internship grant this year thanks to the generosity of the Robert Hardy Memorial Fund, created in memory of Mr. Hardy by his children, Jane Roiter and Robert “Chip” Hardy. The purpose of the Hardy grant is to help support a gifted student interested in museum studies experience the inner workings of an active and established museum.
This year’s grant recipient and intern is Ellie O’Reilly. Ellie made a noticeable impact when she volunteered her time at the Atwood Museum last summer. The staff and volunteers are happy to have her back again. Ellie will be going into her senior year at Cornell University in the fall. She is double majoring in English and art history. She is pursuing a career in museum management and works in the education department at the art museum on campus during the school year, the Johnson Museum of Art. Ellie has just returned to Chatham for the summer after a semester abroad in England participating in the Art, Museums, Galleries, and Curating Program offered by Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Her semester studying historic houses and museums in the U.K. was an experience she treasured.
When asked about her experience with Sotheby’s, Ellie said, “It was an incredible way of getting to know how different types and sizes of museums function and work in different ways in their communities.”
Ellie is supporting a number of departments within the Atwood, including technology, volunteer and operations, and program development. She is putting the museum gift shop online, brainstorming fundraising ideas, assisting with publicity, writing articles, working on social media and the website, and much more.
“Getting firsthand experience in different departments, from collections to IT, has been incredibly important to my development in the museum world. Thanks to the generosity of the Robert Hardy Memorial Fund, I am able to continue my education in museum work and community interaction,” she said.
Robert Hardy, known to most as Bob, was born in Chatham in 1919. In 1940, at the age of 21, he joined American Airlines as a pilot. At the age of 23, he became a captain and remained a steadfast and loyal American Airlines pilot until his retirement in 1979. At that time he was the senior pilot at the company. He spent many years flying all over the world learning new things and experiencing different cultures.
“He valued education and would have been proud to sponsor a gifted student.” said daughter, Jane Roiter.
Locally, Bob was a member of Eastward Ho! and St. Martin’s Lodge. He was an expert on the Chatham Naval Air Station and gave lectures on the topic. His local roots include his great grandfather Josiah Hardy, who was a clipper ship captain and the keeper of the Chatham Light House from 1872 to 1900, as well as his aunts, one of whom is even depicted along with her mother in the famous Stallknecht mural “Christ Preaching to the Multitude,” painted in 1932. Bob passed away in 2017 and is missed by his family, friends, and members of the community. A member of the Greatest Generation, he was one of Chatham’s finest.
The memorial fund was created in Bob’s memory by his children, both Chatham residents, Jane Roiter and Chip Hardy. Their thoughtfulness and generosity has made it possible for the Atwood Museum, which is owned by the Chatham Historical Society, to receive a qualified and dedicated summer intern, which, at the ever-growing and expanding Atwood, is most welcome.
Caroline Imparato is administrator at the Atwood Museum.