Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Themes and Storylines -- Museum Exhibit Musings

I have been told it’s time I start thinking of “themes” and the storyline of the exhibit – to start fleshing things out. So, then, what would they be? Do you see the same areas in the exhibit as I do? Do I have too many themes? Not enough?
Introduction
I see the introductory panel with that Sage quote (see June 21 blog). Then something about how much of Lethbridge today developed during the boom period of 1906-1913. What is the same? What is different? What do we think of Lethbridge in 1906-1913 and what do we think of Lethbridge today?

Background
To understand how much Lethbridge (and Canada) changed 1906-1913, there must be a small section of background on the years prior. Some pictures of Lethbridge in the 1880s and 1890s, some population stats, descriptions from early arrivals – that sort of thing.

Overview
An area with highlights of why these years are important – population stats, list of developments, photos of before and afters, firsts of the time period. Should I include something in this area about why I personally find this such a fascinating time period?

Education
Would it be too cliché to set this up as a classroom from that period? With information provided on the blackboard? A copy of a class schedule. The rules/behaviours of students. A copy of a report card. Picture of the king. A union jack. Copies of readers and text books of the period.

Buildings
I really do think I will interview people about buildings built during this time and have them tell me what (from their own point of view) they like about that building. Lots of pictures here but also audio. Links or directions for the downtown podcast. Reminder that one of the buildings from this time period is our own Galt Hospital. Also the suggestion to have a map with layers where you can overlap the maps and see the changes.

Politics
A lot was happening politically in Lethbridge during this time period. We became a city, adopted the commissioner form of government, and took over Staffordville . What were the effects of these?

Immigration
The more I think about it, the more I like using some of the Brower editorials. Will have to use some statistics. This is one area where, while the exhibit is looking at Lethbridge, should the story of southern Alberta be more included here? I was surprised to find last week that Barons was settled by Estonian immigrants. And there’s many more such stories. Perhaps a chance to tell some of those lesser known stories?

Boosterism/Dry Farming Congress
I must have an area on how the people who lived during 1906-1913 both viewed their own time period and how they saw the future development of Lethbridge and area. What came true and what didn’t? I might want to end the exhibit with this area because it would give the opportunity for people to make predictions on how they see Lethbridge and area developing.
This area must also include a section on the Dry Farming Congress which was one of the most incredible weeks ever in Lethbridge history (and, of course, helped lead to our 16 year debt).

So, this is what I’m thinking to date will be the themes of the exhibit.
But, as soon as I’ve said that, I’m already questioning myself. Should the real estate boom and economy be a theme or included in one of the others? Are there other themes I’m missing? Under what theme, or in what place, to include just some of the errata and fun stories of the time period? Does this fully capture what makes this time period unique and stand out? How to capture the ephemeral “identity” of a time in a list of themes?

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