2006 Awards Recipient
Excellence in Community Heritage
Brad Belk has been a practicing public historian in southwest Missouri for the last nineteen years. He is an educator, archivist, exhibit designer and conservator. In addition, Belk has authored three books entitled The American Photographic Series: Best of Joplin, Orley’s Legacy-The History of Freeman Health System and Murwin Mosler’s Gift to Joplin. He has co-written two books featuring a compilation of historical essays, as well as researching, co-creating and co-producing a series of award-winning historical documentaries for Ozarks Public Television.
Since 1997 he has created a weekly feature for The Joplin Globe titled “The Way We Were.” Belk co-chaired the City of Joplin’s 125th celebration, directed the rediscovery of Crystal Cave, participated on the Jasper County Centennial Courthouse commission and served as past president of the Ozark Museums Association. He has also served on the boards of the Missouri Alliance For Historic Preservation and the Route 66 Association of Missouri.
Belk has been with the Joplin Museum Complex since 1987 and serves as the Executive Director. During his tenure a major addition has been added to the museum, which includes a large exhibit/multi-purpose hall and storage collection area. All the exhibit and display areas were reworked and renovated. New exhibits were created that explore local subjects such as the Spook Light, Crystal Cave, Route 66, the Civil War, the infamous shoot-out with Bonnie & Clyde, the McGee Drugstore, the House of Lords, the Joplin High School Rose Bowl Parade and an area devoted to pre-historic animals of the region.
The seventy-five-year-old Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral wing was completely overhauled in 2004. Today visitors enter the wing in a replicated underground setting which leads them to the most extraordinary set of lead and zinc mineral specimens in the world. The JMC experience has been further enhanced with the addition of the Joplin Sports Hall of Fame, the Empire District Electric Company Museum and the National Cookie Cutters Historical Museum.