Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Paperwork is complete

I hesitate to even say that, because almost every time I get caught up on Deeds of Gift, someone walks in with a new donation!

It is important to have the Deeds signed in the same year as the donation was made, for tax purposes for the donor. If they are going to write off their donation, it has to be made in the same year they are claiming it in, and as long as they bring it in 2007, I have to produce paperwork in 2007.

So far this year we have had 91 individuals donate items to the permanent collection. Since the volunteers and I always have a backlog, it will be a few months before I can definitively say how many artifacts we cataloged in 2007. To date we have cataloged 376 artifacts. That number will probably increase by at least 200 once we have processed everything donated this year. The fist few months of every year are always spent catching up on the year before!

I also sent out McKinley Day letters to everyone involved yesterday, so I am slowly but surely checking things off my list!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My book is here!!

Yesterday Chris and I took the day off, and guess what came in the mail??

My advanced copy of Canton's Pioneers in Flight!

It looks GREAT. I am very excited about it!! It is as thick as my first book (Canton: A Journey Through Time), but the size of my second (Canton's West Lawn Cemetery).

The on sale date is set for January 14, 2008.

Very exciting!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Courthouse exhibit

Just got back from the Stark County Courthouse, where we have a changing exhibition case in the lobby. My intern Valerie did a new exhibit about Pioneers, featuring artifacts like a wooden bowl, pewter plate, and cast iron pot. She did a great job, and it really looks nice!

We took down World War II artifacts that my last intern had done. Having an off-site exhibit space is a great way to get interns involved in exhibition planning, research, and design. They get to work on their own exhibit, it is removed from my list of things to do, and we reach people in the community (and hopefully encourage them to come visit us!).

In the past we have had flag-themed artifacts, kitchen/household goods, transportation items, toys, ladies shoes, and much more. Each intern has a new and unique idea that they want to work on. They can also do small exhibits in the Upper and Lower Lobby in our building. Right now we have piggy banks in the lower lobby for the "Let's Do It Again! Penny Campaign" and a Christmas sleigh scene for the holidays upstairs:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My "To Do List"

Even though the 1920s exhibit is up, and the next one is a traveling show, there are still lots of things on my list! I think people assume that if I'm not researching an exhibit, I just might be sitting at my desk with my feet up eating bonbons. Trust me! There's no time for that!

Here are a few things from my "To Do List," in no particular order:
  • Take intern to the Stark County Courthouse to switch exhibits in the lobby
  • Complete Deeds of Gift for all 2007 donations before the end of the year
  • Finish revising my aviation program
  • Finalize plans for McKinley Day
  • Design programs for McKinley Day
  • Issue Exhibition Schedule to the staff for 2008-2010
  • Create and submit schedule for CTC taping (cable news show)
  • Start working on Bridal Show invitation -- beach theme!
  • Contact everyone who has expressed interest in loaning wedding gowns for show for 2008
  • Place order for archival supplies (we are running low on everything!)
  • Prepare projects for new intern for spring semester
That isn't everything, of course, but it provides a glimpse at the wide range of things that I do as Curator. There are lots of little things that don't even make the list! (I have been known to do something that I didn't write on my list, and then write it down -- just so I can cross it off!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Graphic design

I thought perhaps I should explain why it is that I am in charge of graphic design here at the museum.

The first reason is simply because I love to do it!

The second reason is no one else on staff loves to do it.

No, seriously, we all wear many hats here -- probably more hats than most staff at museums our size. We do a heck of a lot with only a handful of people. Since I have a background in design from my days on the high school and college newspaper staff, it naturally fell to me.

It isn't so far fetched for a curator to also do graphic design, because I do all the exhibits, and everything is closely related. The principles of good design are universal, whether you are creating exhibit panels, newspapers, flyers, or posters.

I have all the equipment in house to produce whatever any department needs, in full color, in any size. I have an HP DesignJet 500, which can print up to 42" wide and as long as a roll of paper. I have a large scale laminator that will apply adhesive to foam core (effectively turning it into a giant sticker). After mounting the printed paper to the foam core, I laminate the entire piece.

With humidity fluctuations, particularly in the summer, my paper was peeling off the foam core before the exhibit was ready to close! I contacted the Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, where I interned in grad school, because I knew they had one and I wanted more information about it. Turns out, they were looking to sell theirs! So I actually work on the same equipment here that I used as an intern. Kinda cool.

Here is an example of the panels I designed for the new 1920s exhibit:

It is the first time I have ever used a dark color with white lettering. It was a bit more challenging to mount, because the color saturated the paper and made it "crinkly" in some places, which made it tough to get it to lie flat. I had to go extra slow!

In addition to exhibit design, I handle the graphic design stuff on our marketing committee. Out in the lobby, I take care of 4 large posters and 3 small posters. The large posters are in a free standing holder. The small ones are in a flat wall case near the elevator. Occasionally we also put posters around the building, usually either for a Keller Gallery exhibit related program or a cooking program in the Street of Shops. I have also done posters for the Museum Shoppe, Planetarium, and Discover World.

When we need a special invitation for an event, I use the graphic design program InDesign, because it is compatible with commercial printers. For in-house jobs, I still use the home design program PrintShop, mostly because it is simpler to use and I am more familiar with it. If there is a chance that I will need to convert anything into a PDF, I always use InDesign, because it doesn't screw up files in the conversion process like PrintShop does. But I love PrintShop because it has hundreds of thousands of clip art graphics integrated right into the program. It is easy to find what I want and apply it. I do cut and paste clip art from PrintShop into InDesign, but it is a bit more cumbersome.

So, in a nutshell, that is how graphic design works here at the museum. I like to call the workspace near my office my "sign shop." I work with every department of the museum to produce their signs and marketing pieces.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Filming at Timken High School

This morning I was on Lois DiGiacomo's cable show "State of the Arts" which is filmed by the broadcast media students at Timken High School. Fortunately for me, she had a few cancellations, so I was able to have a 13 minute segment!

Lois came over yesterday and filmed the 1920s exhibit, so during the taping I was able to talk about the artifacts she filmed. It was the first time I had been able to do that. It was nice to be able to show the viewers what they are going to see if they come visit the exhibit.

We also had time to talk about all the 1920s programming coming up, my new book, and why Chris and I moved to Canton.

I was impressed with the kids who work on this show. They are all trained in working all aspects of the show. They are behind the camera, in the studio, and even on camera sometimes. They are very serious about what they do, and at least one student who was there today said that he is planning to go to college as a business major and film minor so he can start his own film company.

Timken has been slammed in the national media for their high pregnancy rates, etc. But little has been said about the great career tech programs they have to offer. There are 20 to choose from!! From what I've heard, they have a wonderful culinary arts program, complete with a little dining room that is open to the public for lunch. I hope to try it soon.

You can learn more about the broadcast media program by clicking here:

The show I taped airs on Wednesday nights on Channel 11 in Canton. It will be on in January. We have Massillon Cable, so I don't think we can see it. If you happen to catch it, let me know how I did!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Making posters today

Herbert Pease Croxton in a Jewell automobile in 1906. The photograph was taken looking east on Walnut Street in Massillon.

Today I discovered that I still had posters up in the lobby for the Open Hearth Dinner and Cocoa & Carols Christmas Tea! Since I have a chart to plan out what events need posters when, I just had to look at my list to see what I needed to make this afternoon.

So I just finished making posters for two programs coming up in the beginning of next year:
  • Soup at Six
  • Open Hearth Pancake Breakfast
Chris is doing our first "Soup at Six" program on Thursday January 31. His program will be "On the Move: The Early Auto Industry in Stark County." The new Soup at Six series will feature exhibit-based programming. We have 3 more planned for the winter/spring months. The cost is $10 per person and includes open hearth baked bread, a signature soup, and a program.

We will be holding our annual Open Hearth Pancake Breakfast on Saturday February 23 with seatings at 9:00 and 10:30. There is a limit of 16 people per seating, so sign up soon if you want to come! The cost is $8 per person -- less than you would pay to go out for breakfast, and you get to eat in the cabin!

I developed a cool logo for our Soup at Six series a few months ago, and I am excited to get to use it for the first time on the poster! I chose a lime green color, which I hope conveys the energy we have all put into this new series, and how excited we are to launch it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Open Hearth Dinner

The Street of Shops all set up for the dinner!

Thank you to EVERYONE who purchased tickets AND volunteered to help at our annual Open Hearth Dinner. What a spectacular event!

Chris and I are home now, and we are sure worn out. But everything went smoothly. Once you've done these a few times, you get your rhythm down and it just runs like clockwork.

Bill came at 3:30 and the two of them made the pumpkin soup and started cooking the chicken. Chris brought the beans to a boil, and then took them off the fire. That way they are done perfectly -- cooked, but still firm. He doesn't put anything in them, and boy are they good! Cooking in cast iron is the secret ingredient. The "bubble and squeak" (a red cabbage dish with apples, bacon and onions) simmered all afternoon.

Volunteers arrived at 5:00 to have pizza before everything began. Stephanie and Hallie had already set the tables, so all we had to do was pour water, ginger ale, and coffee into pitchers and carafes, and fill each glass with ice. All went according to plan.

Our guests began arriving just before 6:00. Chris invites them to come early so they can see how the food is prepared over the open hearth. Dinner was served promptly as 6:30. We had a few people come in late. All but one showed up -- apparently that guest was sick.

People seemed to enjoy the pumpkin soup more this year than in years past. We only had a few bowls that weren't completely empty. Next was the main course: chicken breast, bubble and squeak, and green beans. We were efficient in serving each table.

After dinner, came the piece de resistence -- the APPLE PIE! I whipped the cream myself before dinner began, and it was chilling in the refrigerator downstairs. As I used the electric mixer to whip it (one of our few concessions to modern technology) I wondered how on earth the pioneers could whip their cream by hand! It took me long enough with the electric mixer!!

Everyone lingered awhile over coffee. Some got up to look around the museum, or visit the shop, and we began taking pie plates and cups away.

Amazingly, we had just about everything cleaned up upstairs by 8:00! We spent another 35-40 minutes cleaning up in the kitchen, and we were all on our way out the door before 9:00.

It was a great event, that we can all be proud of. We showed our guests a good time, and we had fun doing it. This is one of the many reasons that I love my job, and the people we work with.

Here are some more pictures for your viewing enjoyment. There aren't any once the dinner got started, because I was too busy to take pictures!!

Chris prepares the "bubble & squeak."

Cutting the cabbage.

Bill frying the chicken.

Staff and volunteers before the dinner began.

Bill and Chris wearing their new "coooking shirts," handmade by volunteer Patty Lue Roosa.

Spending the day cooking...

Tonight is our Open Hearth Dinner and we are busy cooking for 48 people!

So far, Chris has baked 6 apple pies and 6 loaves of bread. I made the pie filling and snapped enough beans to feed an army! My back is hurting a little from bending over the cast iron pot for so long. I wouldn't have made a good pioneer... :-)

Stephanie and Hallie have been setting the tables, and they are beautiful! It is a lot of fun to be able to serve dinner right in the Street of Shops.

Steve and Stephanie picked up fresh bone-in chicken breasts from Park Farms, and volunteer Bill Gouge will slather them with butter and sage and fry them over the fire in a cast iron skillet. Yummy!

The dinner sells out every year, and with good reason. It is a such a unique holiday experience. We have a live violinist to add a special touch, and the museum is decorated like a Christmas wonderland.

Even though we will be dog tired tonight, it will all be worth it! (And we can all sleep in tomorrow!)

OK, break over. I think I have to go chop onions now...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Volunteer Luncheon

Al Meyer and his wacky, festive Christmas hat!

The volunteers and staff always enjoy this fun event! Everyone brings their most favorite pot luck dish to share, and we all feast on great food. Stephanie did a great job again this year decorating the tables and organizing the event.

Each table had a tiny decorated Christmas tree

This year was no exception. Lots of yummy casseroles and desserts, as you can see!

We played holiday BINGO, and I got to call for the first time. Turns out, I read too fast! We played "full card" BINGO, so it took a long time to get a winner.

Me reading the words for holiday BINGO

After that, Chris played a few Christmas carols. He stumped them on a few trivia questions, so I didn't get to hand out all my candy canes!

For the grand finale, which our volunteers always enjoy, we played Twas the Night Before Christmas. What a hoot! Every time you say the word "the" you have to pass the gift. Whoever has it at the end of the story gets to keep it. But no one ever realizes that the story ends with "THE END" and they have to pass it one more time! This year the prizes were beautiful silver candle holders.

Here is a video of the game -- always good for a laugh every year!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cocoa & Carols

What a wonderful, festive event!

This morning we held our Cocoa & Carols Christmas Tea, with a program presented by Chris called "Origins of Christmas Carols." He plays the piano for a sing-along, and prefaces each piece with some historical background.

It was just great. Everyone who came enjoyed it, and I think it really got people in the holiday mood!

Here are some more photos:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A fabulous event

Last night we held our annual Holiday Open House and we had 755 people attend! It has become a holiday tradition for so many Stark County families. The choirs sang beautifully, the hearth was busy churning out hot fresh donuts, and Santa lit up the eyes of hundreds of children. (Can you guess the most popular thing on this year's wish list? PETS! Kids wanted turtles, puppies, ponies -- you name it!) And the "bar" worked out great for the exhibit opening.

We were absolutely thrilled with the turnout, and would like to thank everyone who came. We wish you all the happiest of holidays, and a wonderful new year!

As soon as I get the photos from the volunteer who took them, I will post a few.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Open House tonight!

The Christmas tree in the lobby.

Everyone here is getting ready for the Holiday Open House tonight!

Chris is already whipping up a batch of ginger bread to bake over the hearth in the Street of Shops. Tonight he will be making homemade donuts -- YUM!

The live reindeer is all set and will be a bit hit again this year, I'm sure, down in Discover World. Hallie has made a special craft for kids. You can make a toilet paper tube Santa!

Yesterday Steve, our Facilities Manager, built a special "bar" for the opening celebration of "Footloose & Fancy Free: Canton in the Roaring Twenties." Volunteers Al and Barb Meyer will be on hand in their "Flapper" and "Sheik" finery, and our volunteers will serve our customers "drinks." Here's the menu:
  • BEER (Rootbeer)
  • GIN & TONIC (Ginger ale)
  • COCKTAIL (Hawaiian Punch)
It should be a lot of fun!

The Auxiliary will be coming in this afternoon to set up cookie trays for this evening's refreshments. Every year, members make hundreds of cookies for our visitors to enjoy! And the refreshments are ALL FREE.

I hope you are planning to come visit us tonight. Members are free, and guests each pay $5. If you can't make it tonight, we are open seven days a week. Fit us into your holiday schedule. You won't be sorry!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New and improved aviation program

A balloon inflates in downtown Canton, 1907.

Today I am working on revising an outreach program on aviation. My new book, Canton's Pioneers in Flight, is coming out in January 2008, and I wanted to update my aviation program to reflect some of the information I uncovered while researching the new book. The program will include the following topics:

  • Frank S. Lahm and the Aero Club of Ohio
  • Frank P. Lahm and the Wright Brothers
  • Walter Wellman and the airship America (NEW!)
  • The Martin Glider (EXPANDED!)
  • Bernetta Miller, the 5th woman in the country to earn her pilot's license (EXPANDED!)
  • Canton's early airfields (NEW!)
  • Timken's contributions to flight (NEW!)
  • The Akron-Canton Regional Airport

The old program was part of my Canton: A Journey Through Time Lecture Series, based on my first book. It was presented on an old Kodak slide projector. I had to have each image converted into a 35 mm slide, and then I had to load and unload the slide carousel every time I did a different program.

When the Kodak projector finally stopped showing my images in focus, Director of Education Chris Kenney convinced me to convert my programs into PowerPoint!

What a wonderful change!

I converted each outreach program I do as people booked them, and all new programs are made using PowerPoint. I have added fancy backgrounds, captions, two slides on one page (unheard of with just ONE projector!), and even sound and video clips (only in Meyers Lake Revisited).

I am going to be doing the new and improved aviation program, which is being renamed "Canton's Pioneers in Flight," with a book signing, for our new Soup at Six series on February 28, 2008. The program is $10 per person and includes a signature soup, fresh bread baked over the open hearth, and a program.

Our two new series of programs Soup at Six and Tea with the Curator will feature programs inspired by the new Keller Gallery exhibit "Footloose & Fancy Free: Canton in the Roaring Twenties." Soups are on Thursday evenings, and Teas are on Monday mornings. We have a full line-up of interesting programs, presented by many different staff members.

Reservations are being taken now for all of the Teas and Soups from January to April. Call 330-455-7043 to sign up!

You can also book "Canton's Pioneers in Flight" for your group. The cost for the program is $25. Call me at 330-455-7043 to make a reservation. Visit the museum's website for a complete list of programs in our Speaker's Bureau.

The new book will be available in the Museum Shoppe in January. Here is a sneak peek of the cover!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Exciting new McKinley donation

We are thrilled to add this wonderful international poster to our collection!

You might recognize it from this summer's Keller Gallery exhibit "Celebrating 100 Years! Building the McKinley National Memorial." Sisters Shirley Smith and Judith Hartz loaned the poster for the exhibit, and they have decided to donate it to us!

They have also donated what we believe is architect Harold Van Buren Magonigle's first design submission to the McKinley National Memorial Association. For unknown reasons, Magonigle's first attempt was rejected, but he was given the opportunity to re-submit a new design. It was that second design that was chosen and stands here today 100 years later.

The drawing was too fragile to include in the exhibit. It is paper mounted on linen, and where it has been folded over the years, the paper is shearing right off. We hope to be able to conserve it in the future.

We knew that the fundraising for the McKinley National Memorial was an international effort, but this is our first piece of evidence that supports that claim. The poster is written entirely in French and describes a performance that will benefit the construction fund. It is an amazing piece of history, and we are so excited that Shirley and Judith have chosen to give it to us!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Don Mellet featured in Repository

Thank you again, Gary Brown!

In today's paper, Gary wrote another story about the exhibit, focusing on the murder of Don Mellett. Here is the link:

We have gotten great local coverage so far. With our new series of programs, we expect to see pretty good crowds for this exhibit!

Catching up on collections

While I work on an exhibit, new donations to the collection patiently wait to be cataloged. Once an exhibit opens, I focus my time on getting all of that work done, with the help of my volunteers and intern.

My volunteers generally catalog artifacts and leave them for me to number, photograph, and put away in storage. Val, my intern this semester, has learned how to properly number the artifacts and to photograph them.

Val works on the collection.

Numbering objects is a two-step process. First, we put down a layer of B-72 acryloid laquer, which is a clear, acid free liquid that resembles clear nail polish. Several years ago, curators actually used clear nail polish, but over time it will flake away and your object becomes separated from its number, which is a curatorial nightmare! The B-72 is stable and will not come off.

Val puts a layer of B-72 on a new acquisition.

Next, we write the number on the layer of B-72 using a fine tip, acid free marker. You have to be very careful, and write the numbers as clearly as possible so people in the future will be able to identify the artifact. We always place the number in a place that is slightly hidden, so that when the object is on exhibit, its number won't show.

Once the artifact is numbered, we take its picture. The photo will be added to the database record of the artifact.

To find the right place for it in collection storage, we have to search the database for other things that are similar. Each sub-group of the collection -- such as glassware, textiles, shoes, etc. -- is stored together.

The process takes about 10 minutes per artifact, which is a lot of time when you consider that we accept nearly 1000 artifacts every year!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Preview the exhibit at the Repository's website

On Saturday, Gary Brown at the Repository published a wonderful story about "Footloose & Fancy Free" -- click here to check it out!

In the Photo Gallery there is a slide show highlighting some of the artifacts you'll see in the exhibit.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Join us for some Flapper Fun!

Volunteers Barb and Al Meyer will be here at the Museum on November 30 for our annual Holiday Open House! They will be serving up drinks in speakeasy style for the official opening celebration of our new Keller Gallery exhibit "Footloose & Fancy Free: Canton in the Roaring Twenties."

Other highlights of the evening include:

* Special science and planetarium shows
* Crafts for kids
* Samples from the open hearth
* Performances by local choirs
* A visit with Santa and a LIVE reindeer!!!
* Unique gift items available in the Museum Shoppe

Refreshments will be provided by the Museum Auxiliary. The evening will conclude with the reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

The Museum will accept donations of canned goods for the Hunger Task Force, so please help us help those in need in our community.

Members are free, $5 per person for non-members. Reservations are appreciated. Please call 330-455-7043 to make your reservations.

Baby snake in Discover World!

The votes are in, and you chose....


The baby albino corn snake is a new resident of Discover World. Since his arrival, we have been holding a contest to name him. Kernel will be a wonderful addition to Ecology Island in Discover World!

Today, Kernel was joined by some bigger friends from the reptile collection of Jeff Risher:

Jeff's collection is a special feature at many of our special events. Look for him again in the future!

Open hearth cooking on the Day After Thanksgiving

We are having a blast today! The museum is buzzing with people, with lots of neat "extras" to entertain and educate our visitors.

Chris is doing special open hearth cooking demonstrations today. Here's what he's up to:

Here he is, rolling out the dough for his famous "apple cobbler"!

He uses a fork to pinch the edges of the top and bottom crusts together.

Then he puts it into a Dutch oven to bake on the hearth.

Here's what happens next:

And an hour later, this is what you get!!

Before and after!

Have you ever seen one of our cooking demos in person? Chris will be doing a lot of cooking in the next few weeks. At our Holiday Open House on Friday November 30 he will be making homemade donuts from scratch.

Then on Friday December 7, he and volunteer Bill Gouge will be preparing our Holiday Open Hearth Dinner. For just $30 per person, you can enjoy a three course meal cooked over the fire! We can seat up to 48 guests. As of this morning, there were only 8 spots left, so give us a call if you are interested!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Welcome to the Curator's Corner!

The Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum is boldly stepping into the 21st century with a few staff members starting their own blogs to let you know what's going on in our departments. I am excited to share with you some of the "inside info" about what goes on behind-the-scenes in our museum!

Of course, this week we are gearing up for Day After Thanksgiving activities! There will be lots of events going on, so if you are looking for something to do, come in and see us! We will officially open "Footloose & Fancy Free: Canton in the Roaring Twenties" in the Keller Gallery that day. Somehow we were able to install the exhibit in RECORD TIME and we opened the doors last Thursday! I always believe that if an exhibit is done, we shouldn't keep it locked away until its official "opening." So several visitors have gotten a "sneak peak" at it over the past week.

Here's one of the gorgeous dresses currently on display:

Director of Education Chris Kenney is up in the cabin of the Street of Shops right now with volunteer Bill Gouge baking 16 loaves of bread that have been pre-ordered by the public. He came in early this morning -- before 7AM! -- to get the fire started. We have 5 classes from Green, Ohio in today who have been able to see the hearth in operation, and even sample a few goodies!

The holiday season promises to be another exciting one here at the museum! Plan to stop by and bring your friends and family.