Friday, April 30, 2010

A True Community Celebration

Just in case you forgot, this February we had a lot of snow. Like 3-4 feet of snow.

And also just in case you forgot, our "Grand Opening" was postponed and then basically canceled because of said snow. As someone who almost never cancels anything, this was especially difficult for me.

On February 12 as I sat with two of my board members talking about the upcoming dilemma of an opening on February 14 with 4 feet of snow on the ground and no parking outside the museum, we came up with the idea of an opening in the spring.

I tagged it a "Community Celebration" of Snapshots in Time. I wasn't sure just what I meant by a "Community Celebration", but I knew that I wanted it to be festive. I wanted people to have a reason to come see an exhibit that had already been open for 2 months.

And most importantly, I hoped that I'd get some people involved who helped put together the exhibit. I wanted to keep the community groups engaged in the LHS and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

So this Sunday, our twice snowed out exhibit opening took place with the threat of a lot of rain. But guess what?! Mother nature decided we had had enough bad weather and she held out for the entire length of the Community Celebration.

Instead we had a true community celebration.

We had a museum filled with music provided by the Laurel School of Music.

We had a basement filled with games provided by Oseh Shalom, one of our partners in developing the exhibit.

We had visitors engaged in "Community Conversations" throughout the afternoon.

We had visitors from the Islamic Community Center of Laurel, another of our partners in developing the exhibit.

We had families enjoying themselves in the galleries.

In the end we had 85 people join us for a fun and festive Community Celebration. Not bad for an exhibit that had already been open a couple of months.

We're thinking this isn't such a bad idea after all. We think it might be worth repeating.

So next year, even if it doesn't snow 4 feet in February, look out for a Community Celebration in the Spring

And it will be the Museum's 15th Anniversary and we think that's definitely worth a celebration!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ever wonder what happens to the stuff you leave behind at museum?

Check out my post on the Uncatalogued Museum's blog:

Friday, April 16, 2010

An Intern's Perspective

Our Spring Intern, Bethany Hyers is working on helping us organize for our upcoming exhibit on the Laurel Race Track. She has been charged with scanning images from our collection and attaching the files to Past Perfect records. She also has done background research on different exhibits on racetracks.

Here is a personal perspective on how she connects to her work at the LHS:

This spring I am interning here at the Laurel Museum to learn about collections. Currently I am set with the task of helping with the 2011 upcoming Laurel Race Track exhibit by updating records so as to streamline the design process. Despite my childhood love for horses, I am not an avid horse race watcher nor do I have much previous knowledge about the Laurel Race Track specifically. I was given the task of researching past exhibits of race tracks that have been done in other museums and I realized that the Triple Crown is coming up in a couple of weeks (May 1st to be exact)! This realization made me think of how the Laurel Race Track got other people excited for the races and what those races meant for them. I think that the online research, finding extremely interesting photographs of people at the track, and the realization of the upcoming Derby that increased my personal connection with this project.

The Kentucky Derby is becoming a new family tradition with more and more in attendance each year. My grandmother - the reason for all the excitement - used to bet on Kentucky Derby horses with her boss when she worked in Washington DC. And ever since then she has always had a love of the Kentucky Derby which has slowly become my love as well. It is always on the calendar of family events.

Derby Day. My dad is charged with the duty of making the mint juleps while my grandma prepares herself for the race by wearing her version of a Kentucky Derby hat and watching the pre-show. (Her hat is not as extravagant as the hat worn by the women at the actual derby since it is a sunhat but it does the job.)This hat, a black and white straw fiber hat that reminds me of a casual version of a church hat, always makes it debut on Derby Day.

As the horses are being led up to the gate, my grandma and I choose the ones we are going to shout for. I tend to base my choice more on the name and look of the horse while my grandma uses a more sophisticated process. (I don’t think my horse has ever won except once. Maybe I should consider changing my picking strategy?)

The opening of the gates starts the cheering and shouting for your horse. It is almost like the room holds its breath (if you can forget the shouting) while the race goes. This atmosphere reminds me of a photograph in the collections of a woman holding her binoculars with a look of anticipation and hopefulness toward the track. I feel like that is a more glamorous version of what goes on at my Grandma’s and what I imagine happens every horse race everywhere.

I think I will always have fond memories of my grandma shouting at the TV with her sunhat-Derby hat on for her horse to win. And so as I update Laurel race track records I remember the excitement of Derby Day and how the atmosphere of horse racing is captured by these photographs.

Friday, April 9, 2010

So much potential...

So, last summer our Junior Docents worked long and hard on researching Laurel's history in order to put together a Junior Docent video.

They learned all about Laurel's history. Then they tried to figure out what was REALLY important and what they wanted to share. Then they worked on figuring out the best way to present the information. In the end, with the help of our volunteer videographer, they made a video of their work. After some editing, the video is finally ready to be shared.

I put it on youtube in preparation for sharing. I thought that would be the quickest and easiest way to share it.

But then the question arose of: How should we share it?

It made its debut, unexpectedly, at the LHS Gala on March 27 where it played on the TVs without sound the entire night.

But what's next?

I put it in the monthly email that goes to all contacts whose email address we have.

Then I tried to talk to someone about it at a program and realized I had never put it on facebook.

So I did that today.

I haven't put it on our website because I haven't figured out where I want it to go.

But our real goal, our major goal, was to use the video as a tool to engage kids in the Museum. But I'm not sure how many kids are on our facebook or are reading our monthly emails.

So how do we go about getting it to them? Should we make DVDs for all of the teachers in the area? Should we create a badge program to go along with the video for local scouts? How about home school groups?

What is the best way to go about marketing and presenting the video and using it to engage kids? What do you think?

Oh, and here's the video for those of you who haven't yet seen it:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One Docent's Reflections

The LHS is powered by many different people who help turn the wheels of our organization. One of the most important groups of people turning the wheels are our docents. Our docents serve as the front-line of the museum, greeting our visitors and giving tours when we're open.

One of our docents, Ireene Ohlmacher, related an interesting front-line experience to me and I asked her to share her experience for the blog. Enjoy!

On Sunday, March 28, I worked as a guide in the Museum. As you all know, sometimes we are overwhelmed with visitors and sometime - well, it's hard not to take a nap. This Sunday I had several different groups. One had young children who thought that the idea of making collages was the most brilliant thing they had come across in a long time once I explained that they could cut out ANY picture they liked for the collage. At first they wanted them put up, but then they thought it would be more fun to take them home with them.

However, the neatest experience was when a boy scout troop of 12-16 year olds walked in with their leaders. You could just see the look on their faces when they came in - "What a waste! We have to visit a boring old museum." They had come in to get the patches which are available in the gift shop (which I didn't know at the time). I however could not let all those young minds escape me. So, 1st I shanghaied them to give them information about the mill & the house (emphasizing how many people lived in each of the apts and what ages they would have been working at). Then I explained that the idea of this year's exhibit was what makes a community - shared religion, activities, places, the games we all played growing up. THEN I showed them the games & told them - "go ahead - play them, have fun." However, I took the older boys over to the character game, explained it, gave them each a character (no boy wanted to be any of those alien creatures - girls) & we discussed how they might react to a situation in 1910 - then we did 2010. At this point, I told them "why don't you all play it - you don't need me. Just return all the cards, because I get yelled at if they aren't all returned" and I walked away. I stayed in the room to watch (and mediate if necessary). It was fantastic - They proceeded to pick up more cards & (without an adult who might give the "evil eye" if they said the wrong thing) had a great time playing out the game their way. Amazing. Then they decided to play Jacks (the scout leader & I refrained from saying mostly girls played it & we didn't explain the rules). I don't know when I have seen 3 teenage boys have so much fun, - they made their own rules. It was so much fun to watch them play. The younger boys were into yo-yo & Connect Four, but the laughter came from the older ones.

Next time, when they come in, they'll be looking for the games to play and not just thinking another dry museum trip - I hope. I don't know if that's good or bad.