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David Hessen – Marketing Director for the National Watch and Clock Museum

By Admin | January 11, 2008

Dave Hessen is the Director of Communications for the National Watch and Clock Museum and the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. (NAWCC) Both organizations are housed in a spacious museum complex in Columbia, Pennsylvania – located on the banks of the Susquehanna River 15 miles south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and just off Route 30 between York and Lancaster and 80 miles west of Philadelphia. We recently talked with Mr. Hessen.

Where are you from?

Lancaster, PA.

Where did you go to college and what was your academic major?

Kutztown University, BA in Communications.

What was your career path from college to Director of Communications at the Museum?

I spent about fifteen years in the advertising/marketing industry. Accounts I’ve worked on include several Fortune 500 companies, as well as several local and national healthcare organizations.

What is the most valuable timepiece in the museum’s collection and what is the value?

The museum boasts thousands of priceless objects that can rarely be viewed anywhere else. The collection as a whole is of incredible historical value.

Why is the museum located in the very small town of Columbia, Pennsylvania?

“Why Columbia?” is the most often asked question about the location of the Association’s National Headquarters. The connection started in 1952 when Earl T. Strickler of Columbia, Pennsylvania was elected Secretary.

He organized and was caretaker of all the Association records. In 1953, he was named BULLETIN Editor. He carried out all of these duties in the basement of his home.

As the NAWCC grew, he hired employees and rented office space. In 1971, with membership nearing 12,000, a separate building was purchased at 514 Poplar Street. It became the Headquarters office.

Prior to 1971, Mr. Strickler maintained his own private museum in his residence. In 1971, the NAWCC formed a Museum Acquisitions Committee to solicit donations.

In 1977, doors opened to the public to an 8,000 square foot gallery. In 1985, a gallery addition doubled the existing exhibit and library space.

In 1998, the Museum was again expanded and a large addition was added to the building with new office space for the staff and the museum was expanded to fill in the entire old building.

How many visitors a year tour the museum?

The Museum sees anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 visitors annually depending on tourism trends, exhibits, and programs.

How is the Museum funded?

The Museum is partially subsidized by members of the NAWCC and is also funded through admission revenue, museum store sales, grants, and museum friends.

What is your strategy to market the Museum?

We work closely with the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau and The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Web traffic, local and regional media such as TV and radio features, and newspaper and publications work well. We also receive strong networking support from our membership and Chapters.

The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors sponsors a horology school that is located on the campus in Columia. What is a horology school?

In 1995, the Association officially opened the NAWCC School of Horology, which is designed to continue the tradition of training watchmakers and clockmakers by offering a 60-week Complete Horological Repair Program. Students are taught on the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, with workshops for continuing education and enthusiasts as well.

In 2007, a graduating watch class traveled to Grenchen, Switzerland, for advanced chronograph training. The School is also licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools.

Are there any other watch and clock museums?

A handful. The American Watch and Clock Museum in Bristol, Connecticut, is one. In the world? There are very many museums worldwide, especially in Europe.

What is one watch and clock “fun fact?”

A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second. Thus the saying, “I’ll be there in a jiffy.”

The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the person being interviewed and are not attributable to DailyInterview.com or the editors.

Copyright 2008 DailyInterview.com

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