What’s Up With…Paul Kuhns & the Museum Connection?

by Fay Jacobs on October 1, 2010

“Our history as a town may only go back 110 years or so, but there is so much more here,” says Paul Kuhns, Rehoboth Beach Historical Society president. “Now that we have the museum open, people are finding that out!”

Kuhns, who has been president of the Society since January 2009 has presided over a huge jump in Society membership and the coming into its own of Rehoboth’s renovated and re-energized ice-house museum.

The Rehoboth Beach Museum became a reality, including negotiations from the City for the space and the actual renovation of the building, under the remarkably successful presidency of Bill Bahan, followed by its second president, the energetic steward Harvey Waltersdorf, both longtime Society members.

When Paul Kuhns took over as president, he brought his financial acumen and entrepreneurial spirit to the project and brought the Museum to its next level of success.
“We had 450 members in 2007 and now there are 700,” Paul says, proud of the membership’s diversity. “The potential is unlimited and we are planning so many projects.”

Kuhns moved from New York City to Rehoboth full-time in 2005, newly retired from a 25 year career in municipal finance. He always knew he’d wind up here, having grown up in D.C, with Rehoboth as his vacation destination.

“To me, this was the place I knew as THE BEACH,” he says, recalling his summer stints working at classic tourist destinations like Ruddertown and Summer House.

He bought his first home here in 1987.

In fact, coming full circle, Paul is now part-owner of both Summer House and the three thriving Arena’s Deli venues.

When he settled here in ’05, Paul took an interest in City politics and did a stint on the Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners. But it’s at the Museum where he really found his niche and his passion. Both he and his wife Michelle are knee deep in Museum volunteer work.

The latest project, a collaborative effort between Bill Bahan and Kuhns has been the magnificent new walkway overlooking the Rehoboth Canal, outside the back door of the Museum. It’s a wooden walkway with a railing with a platform that juts out 20 feet from the canal bank. They’ve added new lighting and benches to the area and it’s a wonderful new amenity for both the City and the Museum. It’s possible, in the future, a water taxi might even travel the canal between Rehoboth and Lewes. From Bahan’s vision that this was possible, to Kuhn’s leadership in getting it done, it’s a stunning new addition to the area.

In addition, there is also a new partnership between the Museum and the state arts agencies, fostering the sharing of exhibits and expertise.

Kuhns was recently quoted as saying “Partnerships like this allow small museums to thrive and allow state agencies to share their expertise and collections with the entire state. It gives us, really, a traveling museum. We’ll be able to exhibit significant artifacts that the state owns that have to do with the Rehoboth Beach community.”

As are many local volunteers and activists, Paul Kuhns is also involved with other non-profits working to benefit the community. He is currently involved in both the Chamber of Commerce and the Rehoboth Beach Film Society. Knowing Paul, collaborative efforts between organizations will soon be afoot.

If readers haven’t been to the Museum yet, it’s worth a trip to town. There is plenty of parking at the site right over the bridge into Rehoboth and the new back deck and canal overlook will be the perfect place to enjoy the fall foliage. Come take a look – and you might even run into Paul Kuhns, biking around, planning his next Museum project.

Check it all out at www.rehobothbeachmuseum.org . Their hours are: Monday, Thursday and Friday, 10 am -4 pm and Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 3 p.m. . Phone, 302-227-7310.

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