Even with the Little League World Series long over, exciting things are still happening in South Williamsport at the Little League International complex, as the Little League Museum is set to receive a major renovation before reopening in June 2013.
Heading the $4 million project is Lance Van Auken, whom as of early 2013, will take over as the Vice President and Executive Director of the Little League Museum.
"It's a big honor and I'm honored to have been promoted to this position," Van Auken said. "It's something that suits me very well because I'm sort of a history buff and I have been involved in Little League one way or another for nearly half of a century. It's a great opportunity for me and I hope it's something that will benefit Little League going forward."
Van Auken, formally a sportswriter for 11 years in Florida, became Little League's Assistant Director at the Southern Region Headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1993 before moving to South Williamsport in 1996 to become Director of Publications and Media Relations at Little League International.
Van Auken has been overseeing the renovation project and will lead the staff that provides the day-to-day operation of the museum. And that museum, once the renovation is complete, will have a very different look.
"Anybody who has been to it before won't recognize it," Van Auken said. "In fact, right now, it's undergoing nearly a complete demolition inside, so we are really starting from the ground up and redoing every single aspect of it."
The museum will look the same to anyone passing by on Route 15 in South Williamsport, but the inside will be a new, modern facility.
"No exhibits that were they will be in the future," Van Auken said. "We are very much taking advantage of new technologies and there are a lot more things for kids to do that are fun and engaging."
Along with attempting to appeal to the younger generation, the museum will also feature many exhibits from local Little Leagues around the country and the rest of the world. The museum will also feature two new theaters including a 24-foot screen for visitors to see images of leagues all around the world.
"We are starting the tour off with a theater where the visitor will see images from leagues all around the world and it's at the center of everything," Van Auken said. "As you move around the center there will be images of local league play to galleries and how it has grown internationally."
Going forward, the museum will attempt to focus much more on the local Little Leagues, rather than the World Series, something Auken calls the most important aspect of Little League.
"We want to make sure that anyone stopping in at the museum is going to get a great experience out of it and have it feel relevant to them," Auken said. "It's not just about the World Series, and there is a lot more of the local league in the museum."