Friday, 7 January 2011

It Takes a Village to Build an Exhibit

I’m sure that when most people walk into an exhibit they don’t think of all of the people who have worked to make it happen. But believe me that there’s a lot of people involved and there’s much to be done. Let me tell you a little about just this week and it’ll give you some sense of what I mean.

Of course our staff is involved. Brad Brown, our exhibit designer, is presently working on the time line that will go around the walls of the interactive parlour and then he has a zoo to build (it’ll all make sense when you visit the Greatest Years You Never Knew exhibit on Lethbridge 1906-1913 that opens in April).

Greg Ellis, our Archivist, came up with the title for the Archives Exposed exhibit that will run at the same time. We’re calling it – Coal Town to Boom City – and it looks at how Lethbridge looked before and after 1906-1913. Greg and Trish Purkis, the Archives’ Assistant, are busy scanning and printing the photos for this exhibit. The Archives is also printing copies of Christmas cards from 1906-1913 so we can have reproductions that people can look at and touch.

Bobbie Fox, who usually can be found at our front desk, is working on a case on the Travellers’ Aid Society (the Society started in the 1906-1913 period). Bobbie has also been helping with research on music from 1906-1913.

Michelle Christensen, our store manager, is trying to find products that people will love and which will tie into the 1906-1913 time period. I’ve been tossing all kinds of suggestions at her about products she could have but I’m sure she’ll have better luck finding great projects at the gift show in February than from my ideas.

And volunteers are also actively working on parts of the exhibit. Thursday morning, under the watchful eye of Kevin MacLean, our Collections Manager, volunteers pulled all of the artifacts we’re proposing to use in the upcoming exhibit. These artifacts will then have to be readied for the exhibit.

Shanell Papp, an incredible artist, is one of our volunteers transforming photographs of historic buildings constructed between 1906 and 1913 into fun and whimsical colouring sheets. These sheets, along with historic information, will be downloadable from our web-site just prior to the launch of the exhibit in April so kids (kids of all ages) can print them out before or after their visit (we’ll also have some here for people to take home).

Lindsay Van Dyk is finishing up some in-depth research because we’re hoping to develop cards where visitors can choose an identity and learn about what life was like for different people during this time period.

And any staff or volunteer might at any time be asked to review, edit or evaluate something. Evelyn Yackulic, who more often works with money than history, was kind enough to provide feedback on an activity where you have to decide whether statements taken from City Council Minutes are from the early 20th century or from the 21st century. Not easy to do (as she can attest).

And that doesn’t even begin to look at the people who have to help market this or create events and programs around this or all of the other myriad activities. And that’s just this past week. Can’t wait to see what next week holds.

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