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.

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