Virginia “Ginny” Schroeder had never lived in a city with a great local museum. So when she moved to Evansville in 1975 with her late first husband, Gilbert Graves, she quickly set out to change that.
Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1924, Ginny majored in history at Wellesley College near Boston. While in Boston, she met Gilbert, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate. The two married, and Gilbert soon went to work for Alcoa.
The couple’s four children were either in college or starting their careers when Ginny and Gilbert relocated to Evansville in 1975. Ginny says this gave her more time to focus on helping and improving her new community.
It was Ginny’s idea to seek out sponsorship from local businesses for the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. She started with Alcoa. Gilbert talked to his employer, who gave Ginny “a very nice check” to present to John Streetman, the museum’s director. It didn’t take long for other businesses in Evansville to follow Alcoa’s example.
“Now we constantly see the names of our wonderful local businesses who graciously do so much for our community,” says Ginny.
In her earliest years with the museum, Ginny was involved with the education program, working diligently as a member of the Docent Association. She later joined the Evansville Museum’s Board of Trustees and served on the executive committee for many years.
After her husband passed away in 1982, Ginny married John Schroeder, an Evansville native and plastic industry pioneer. Together, they remained involved with the museum and continued to volunteer.
Now 90, Ginny has remained active in the Evansville community. She drives and assists with projects at the museum, though she now considers herself semi-retired.
Among the many initiatives Ginny has led to ensure the museum’s sustainability was to create an endowed chair — the Virginia G. Schroeder Curator of Collections. Mary Bower currently holds the position.
The museum is thankful for Ginny’s dedication. She is one of only four people to be named an Honorary Lifetime Trustee of the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, and when visitors arrive at the museum’s new, two and a half story glass pavilion, they enter through the Virginia and John H. Schroeder Plaza.
For more information about the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, call 812-425-2406 or visit emuseum.org.