The lnfoAge museum has evolved from its first photo exhibit
By Caitlyn Bahrenburg
WALL TOWNSHIP – The lnfoAge Science History Museum, located on the historic Camp Evans campus, celebrated the 15th anniversary of its first exhibit earlier this month, marking a milestone for this fledgling site.
Founded on Nov. 8, 2001, the museum started out as a 1,000 square-foot space with a photography display titled, “Wall’s Marconi Station: 1912-1925.” Fittingly enough, the exhibit was housed in the former Marconi Wireless Stations manager’s residence on Marconi Road.
Enlarged photos and posters filled the space, taking guests on a pictorial excursion into the past.
While there was much left to do at the site at the time of the opening, Mr. Carl told The Coast Star in 2001 that after waiting for the U.S. Army to transfer the site to them, he didn’t want to wait another moment.
Today, the site boasts over 67,000 square feet spread amongst 14 structures, each filled with historic artifacts, according to Fred Carl, chief operating officer and founder at lnfoAge.
Beyond its physical expansion, lnfoAge has drastically expanded its services as well. The space currently offers much more than one photo exhibit – guests can explore a myriad of scientific and historical exhibits, engage in lecture series, take classes and revel in its annual holiday train exhibit, among many more activities geared towards science, history, and technology.
Mr. Carl attributed the museum’s growth to the dedication of volunteers who helped lnfoAge move forward “a little step at a time.”
Though lnfoAge has grown and evolved in its 15 years of operation, its goal has remained the same: “to inspire kids to learn science as we save this amazingly historic technology site,” Mr. Carl said.
“It’s very important to inspire kids to learn science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM,” Mr. Carl said. “The United States is a nation of innovation. Camp Evans is an example of early wireless innovation, innovation that shortened WWI, innovation that helped win WWII, and innovation that helped win the Cold War.”
SAVING THE SITE
Before lnfoAge joined the campus, Camp Evans was set to be demolished, Mr. Carl said. “It was sort of this big albatross and no one could figure out what to do with it,” he said. “The plan was to demolish it and they had already gotten an estimate of $3 million.”
Had the property been demolished, significant moments in this country’s history would have been demolished along with the brick and stone.
Among its most notable historic feats, Camp Evans was involved in tracking Sputnik, plotting the first lunar landing and developing sensor technology that has been used to protect Olympic athletes from terrorists at the Olympic Village at Lake Placid in 1980, according to Mr. Carl.
During a public hearing, Mr. Carl stood up and suggested a new plan for the site.
“Part of the site should be preserved with a science museum center and the Township of Wall, the township committee at the time, said, ‘Go ahead and give it a shot.’ That was back in 1993,” Mr. Carl said.
Mr. Carl set up the first exhibit of the museum eight years later in 2001: a 1,000 square-foot space with posters and photographs of the history of the site and an explanation of what they hopes lnfoAge could be.
Though Mr. Carl got his shot, the fight was far from over.
According to Mr. Carl, he had to fight the U.S. Army for 18 months to designate Camp Evans as a historic site. Mr. Carl said the U.S. Army was preventing him from getting the list on the national registry. After calling on Congressman Chris Smith and the Old Wall Historical Society, Mr. Carl was successful in his goal.
lnfoAge served as a virtual learning center until 2006, at which time the property was transferred from the US Government to Wall Township and subsequently leased to lnfoAge.
Having faced years of neglect, the property was in dire need of renovations and repairs, according to the lnfoAge website. Thousands of volunteers and nearly 2 million hours later, the campus was restored to its former glory and ready for lnfoAge to turn its goal of educating children about science, history, and technology form a dream to a reality.
Today, Camp Evans is a US Department of Interior National Historic Landmark and a state-designated WWII Living Memorial. It was also designed at Save America’s Treasures Site by the Clinton Administration and a Preserve America Stewards Site by the Bush Administration, according to lnfoAge’s website.
Today, lnfoAge runs with no federal, state, or county funding.
“We occasionally get a project grant to fix heat or air conditioning … but we do not get funds to help us pay people to be a maintenance man or manage,” Mr. Carl said.
“Having worked with a bunch of exceptional persons to conquer over 60,000 square feet of space with meager, meager funds, it’s a privilege and an accomplishment,” Mr. Carl said.