Van Dolsen moved mountains at Imagination Station

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I would like to wish the very best to Nancy Van Dolsen, who will leave her functions as director of the Imagination Station to start a new career in Philadelphia on June 28.

She will be dearly missed. Nobody is irreplaceable, they say; still, Nancy Van Dolsen will be the closest it ever gets to the definition of the word.

Working in a very difficult financial environment, Mrs. Van Dolsen had to be smart, creative and tireless to build a museum with more than 40,000 visitors a year. One can only imagine what could have happened if she had received more funding for her very hard work.

Not afraid to call a spade a spade, her style was too direct for some, but that is the only way to get things done here.

After a very successful first edition of Eyes on Main Street in the spring of 2015, our festival was suddenly left without a partner. As the director of EOMS, I approached almost all the nonprofits working in downtown Wilson without any success. Until I got a call from Nancy that she would be delighted to be our umbrella and partner in the organization of a second Eyes on Main Street in 2016. Without that very important decision, Eyes on Main Street may have disappeared from our historic downtown landscape a long time ago.

For three years, Nancy Van Dolsen housed the festival until we became a fully independent nonprofit ourselves in August 2018. Her vision and quick thinking made it possible for us to flourish and develop into a fully recognized international event. I write these words on my way back from Korea; that is how much we have grown since 2015.

As a person who had the chance to share a strong working relationship with Mrs. Van Dolsen, I know that this departure will be a huge loss for the city of Wilson. This is where we are weak again. Mrs. Van Dolsen had several dreams for her museum — often her car would be in the parking lot as most others were still in bed—all of them daring and strong. But running after money takes an incredible toll in people’s life and some of the best projects remained in the end on a drawing board, unfulfilled, never realized.

A museum like our science museum cannot be built for profit, the word education the key. And how much “richer” are the children who came through the doors learning about Jimmy or the Sphere? To repeat the number once more, Mrs. Van Dolsen built an education center where more than 800 visitors came every week. This is more than an achievement; it is like moving a mountain.

As a friend, I am delighted for Nancy Van Dolsen to have received this wonderful job opportunity. She is in her prime and I can already imagine the wonderful things she will accomplish; she is about to make a lot of people happy in her new environment.

May this departure be a lesson to all of us remaining in Wilson about the need to give education or the arts a lot more support and enough means as not to “lose” our best people to others.

This ending could have been different.

Jerome De Perlinghi