Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Museum Exhibit Musings -- Thoughts on a Title

Doing some research on-line I got distracted when I found a 1911 book on Lethbridge. This was one of those boosterism books that highlighted the many advantages of the community. The sub-title for the pamphlet was A City of Potentialities and I’m wondering if that wouldn’t be a good name for the exhibit: A City of Potentialities: Lethbridge 1906-1913. It would be a play on words because most of the potential that they saw in the early 20th century did not come to pass. So the exhibit could highlight some of the pie in the sky ideas of the time. But it could also look at many of the potentialities that were brought to pass and which still affect us today.

Or, another line I found in a writing from that time period: “The mineral resources of Pittsburgh, the Agricultural area of Minneapolis”. Okay, that one could be a little long. What about: “A Pennsylvania Under Prairie Farms”? Would really require you to know about the coal fields of Pennsylvania so it probably won’t work either. But what’s obvious from this time period is that they are often trying to highlight both the coal and the agricultural potential. Of all the boosterism slogans that balance coal and wheat, I still think I like “Coal City in the Wheat Country” best. But if we want to go another direction there’s also – “Bright, Sunny Skies – No Smoke” and “The Gateway Between the Prairie and the Pacific.”

But, seriously, would one of the boosterism slogans of that time period work for a title? Would it be too ‘tongue in cheek’ to work? Would we have to explain the title? Or would it be self-explanatory? Should the title be obvious or should it be something people have to figure out for themselves? Maybe use their potentialities?

Well, I don’t have to come up with a title just yet but I’m certainly going to be reading more of these books on-line. If you’re interested in reading them they are on Our Future Our Past under the local histories.

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