Friday, November 20, 2009

What do you think?

Can anyone guess what is happening in this image?

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Yummy Day With The LHS

This year for the second year in a row, the LHS hosted "The Taste of Laurel." This is a free event that we hold to showcase all of the wonderful food that Laurel has to offer. If you're sitting there thinking, "what wonderful food", read on!

This event is made possible because of the generous support of Main Street Pharmacy. Thank you Joan!

Beginning in the early summer, we start making the rounds to local restaurants and businesses inviting them to bring the best of what they have to offer to share with the community. Sometimes it is a hard sell, particularly if businesses have never heard of the Historical Society.

The point we try to explain to the businesses is: we are trying to provide a venue for them to show off their specialties. We want the Laurel community to know just how great our business community is and how much we have to offer. We want people to know what we already know about Laurel--There is a thriving small business community in Laurel, ready and willing to serve them!

What I find most difficult about convincing people of this is that we, a small historical society, would like to help them--a local business. I think it's hard for people who have never thought of a historical society taking on that role to conceive of why we would want to do that. They tend to think of us as the people who tell them whether or not they can hang a neon sign, but remember, that is not us!

The next step in the planning process is telling the community about theTaste of Laurel. We invite the Laurel community to attend this free event to sample local food and meet local business owners. As most people know, the idea of free food is an offer that will usually draw a good sized crowd, no matter the venue.

But as one of our vendors explained to me after the event, the people that attended really seemed to care about their community and care about the places they patronized. They are the type of people that quickly become regulars and support businesses because of how they are run, not just because of prices and quick deals. Which is great, because this is exactly the type of crowd we were hoping to attract!

And our crowd this year was big--we had over 100 people attend and 8 vendors participate. Aunt Susan's Kitchen, Fruit Flowers, Kafe Kabob, Main Street Sports Bar and Grill, Mango's Grill, Nuzback's, Toucan Taco, and Red Hot and Blue all brought their best food for visitors to taste.o t

Visitors had to visit the Museum first to collect tickets in order taste the free food. Tickets could be earned by walking through the door, completing a scavenger hunt of the current exhibit, entering a free raffle, and in several other ways.

Although we may have tricked them a little with the offer of free food, most visitors were happy to visit the Museum first. Many visitors who usually attend special programs and events at the Museum were happy to look through the exhibit closely. The West County Gazette has an article by Elizabeth Leight in which she quotes a visitor, Brennita Swan, who said "We come here all the time, but this scavenger hunt really helps us focus on certain things we may have missed."
Overall, I believe most people were happy to visit the Museum in order to get a taste of Laurel.

But this successful day, like so much of what goes on at the Museum, is only the tip of the iceberg for all of the planning and hardwork that went into putting the Taste of Laurel together. Thank you to all of LHS' wonderful volunteers for their hard work.

And if you own a local business and you'd like to take part in next year's Taste of Laurel, contact me soon!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Exhibit Takes Shape....Sort Of

Every year the Laurel Museum features a new exhibit.

When I arrived, the current exhibit was "Buy It Here: Laurel Advertises". The exhibit we opened last February and which will run through this December is "Shake, Rattle 'n' Roll: Laurel in the 1950s".

Right now we're working on an exhibit that compares life in Laurel in 1910 and in 2010. We're tentatively calling it "Snapshots in Time: Our Story 1910/2010".

We know what our goals are with this exhibit:
Explore the many ways we conceive(d) of community in Laurel in 1910 and in 2010.
Have people leave with a deeper appreciation of their community.
Be interesting, engaging, interactive, meaningful, and visually exciting.

That doesn't sound too difficult? Right?

We're plugging along on the exhibit. We've done a lot of the broad research comparing Laurel in 1910 and 2010. But what we're really trying to base the exhibit on is pictures.

For 1910 we have the Sadler images. See a previous blog to learn more about Sadler. The images are great and frustrating.

The really wonderful thing about the Sadler images is that they tell 1 story of Laurel in 1910---one man's story of his family and friends. That allows us to discuss how history is saved and who defines history. This man saved his images, so his story largely defines our visual understanding of Laurel in 1910.

The not so wonderful part about the Sadler images is that they are VERY hard to scan. Apparently glass plate negatives neither like our old scanner or our new one.

I can not tell you all that we've done to try to get them to scan, but suffice it to say that I was taken off the duty of scanning because I could not control my emotions.

My wonderful coworker Monica was put on the task. She has been somewhat successful, but is seeing that success wear-off.

But that's okay. We anticipated that the scanning would be a huge task and it is. Somehow, someway, we WILL have images of 1910. We have them in our collection and we can make it happen.

But what about 2010? We want 2010 to be different--to not just have 1 man's story be the central part of the story. We want everyone in Laurel to help us tell that story.

Remember a while back when I predicted that people would think their story wasn't worth telling? Well, I think I was right.

We've put the word out through flyers, emails, newsletters, newspapers, etc and haven't had much luck. We've seen a trickle start, but definitely nothing overwhelming. I think people always assume that someone else's story is more interesting.

So here's what I have to say to that mentality:

You know you, the one sitting there reading this?I know what you're thinking...I don't have any pictures that are interesting.

Well, I bet you do. As long as they were taken within the greater Laurel area in the last 5 years we're interested. To learn more about exactly what we need, see this slightly confusing, but useful form.

I promise, we want your help. Not the guy sitting next to you in the computer lab at the library, but yours. Well, his too, but definitely yours as well.

And I promise, I won't make you try to use the scanner. All I ask is that you help us tell the story of Laurel today---your story.