Friday, February 24, 2012

Audio scripts are done!

I just finished the last of the audio tour scripts! Woo hoo!! Phase I is done!

Phase II will be recording them. We would like to include appropriate sound effects and/or music underneath the vocals. So I will be brainstorming about what to look for in the next few days.

We are thinking of asking people in the community to come in and record some of them for us. We'll also be brainstorming about who to ask! Before we do that, we need to experiment in-house to determine the correct settings, etc.

Phase III (which can happen at the same time as Phase II) will be to purchase the remaining equipment (some we already have) and build the housing for the buttons themselves. I'm torn between wanting our visitors to NOTICE the buttons and not wanting the buttons to ruin the "feel" of stepping back in time in the Street. We'll have to come up with a design solution that addresses both concerns.

This project has been on my list for such a long time! I can hardly believe I have a draft done! I will be reading them aloud and timing them to make sure the text flows and they are each under 45 seconds.

I want people to actually listen to these audio programs and learn from it! Not get bored and walk away.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

10 Best Presidential Sites for Kids!

Today Travel named us one of the 10 Best Presidential Sites for Kids! Click here to read the whole list.

We're definitely unique in the world of presidential sites. We're the only one that has a science center, planetarium, and a local history component. It all works together, because we're preserving the history of "a community that created a president."

Plus, McKinley was very interested in science. He was killed at the Pan-American Exposition, where he was visiting to learn about the latest technological advances of his time. Our science exhibits and programming in Discover World dovetails beautifully with his interest in science and education.

We're a "one-stop shop" for field trips, because our educational programs meet social studies AND science standards. So teachers love to come here to achieve multiple objectives!

Tea with the Curator - That's Entertainment!

I just got back from picking up 9 (yes, 9!) books to do research for my next Tea with the Curator on March 19.

I will be giving a tour of the new Keller exhibition "That's Entertainment" after the program, so I didn't want to duplicate local history in my presentation. Instead, I'm going to do a program on the history of popular amusements in America, to provide context for the local attractions featured in the exhibition.

The Stark County Library is FANTASTIC! I've used Search Ohio a lot in the past, which provides access to a network of public libraries throughout the state. But most of the books I wanted for this project were not available in the public library system. OhioLINK, which was recently added to the services offered at the Stark County Library, provides access to college and university libraries. I could not have gotten these wonderful resources without OhioLINK!

If you're interested in signing up for the Tea, please call 330-455-7043 for reservations. It's going to be a fun program and tour!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Street of Shops buttons

This week I am working on a variety of projects, but one that I really, really hope to finish before Friday is the new scripts for the buttons in the Street of Shops!

It's been on my To Do List for a very long time!

I am updating the scripts for:
  • The Cabin
  • Dannemiller store
  • Print Shop
  • Gibbs Manufacturing Company
  • Blacksmith
  • Jewelry Shop
  • Lawyer's Office
  • Dentist
  • Doctor

I am adding scripts for:

  • The Toy Shop
  • Hotel Lobby
  • Saloon
  • Fire Station
  • Gas Station
  • Pharmacy
  • Schoolhouse

The new buttons will feature shorter audio scripts, less than 45 seconds each. Some stops in the Street of Shops will have multiple buttons, so you can focus in on what you really want to learn about.

No learning takes place when someone pushes a button and walks away from it! We hope to add layers of sound effects to the short scripts, making them engaging and interesting for our visitors.

I'll keep you all posted on the project, which I hope to unveil before tourist season begins this summer!

Taylor Matthews photos

Yesterday Charita Goshay from the Repository called. She wondered if we had copies of the photos Taylor Matthews took, documenting Canton's African American community in the 1940s and 1950s.

We exhibited his work sometime before I came in the fall of 2001. When I got here, the matted photos were still here. Our Director Joyce Yut suggested that I scan them all before returning them to the owners.

I am so glad I did!

Charita told me the originals have been destroyed! So the scans I have are likely the only images left documenting a huge slice of Canton's history!

The scene that played out in my office after I hung up the phone was a cross between panic and frustration. I KNEW I had scanned those photos. But it was 10 years ago now! Where did I save them?

To clear off space on the hard drive of my last computer, I burned a lot of my old files onto CDs. I looked through all of them, trying to find the scans. Nothing.

I thought maybe I had given the CD to our library. Nothing.

I came back to my office, searched through more drawers, popped more CDs into my computer. Nothing.

Then, suddenly, it hit me.

They are on my current hard drive! I saved them in the "Collections" folder, for some reason. I guess when I did it, I hadn't written my first book yet, and I didn't have a huge file of scanned images yet. I think I'll move them there now, because that would be the most logical place to store photos.

I made copies of the 63 scans I have for Charita, who was very excited to get them. (Very excited is probably a vast understatement...she was practically euphoric!)

Needless to say, I was relieved to find the scans. But I was also humbled to think that I had saved such an important part of Canton's story. When I scanned them all those years ago, I was just making copies. I never imagined the originals would some day be gone.

Preserving history is a great honor and a privilege!

Here is one of the Taylor Matthew photos:

Esther Archer in City Council meeting. She was the only woman and black member of City Council. She was first elected in 1947 and served four terms.

President's Day crowd


That's all I can say about yesterday!

We had a record-breaking admissions day! We sold tons of memberships and people were really shopping in the Museum Shoppe! Excellent day. There was a line at the Admissions Window almost every time I walked through the lobby. Outside of a special event, I don't know if I've ever seen a day like yesterday in the past 10 1/2 years. Honestly. Wow.

PLUS we had high attendance over the weekend, too. Making it possibly the highest three-day stretch in admissions we've ever had!

If you came to visit us recently, we'd love to know why you came, how you heard about us, and what you thought of your visit. We strive to provide an excellent experience for our visitors, so your feedback is important to us.

THANK YOU for making yesterday so amazing!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Huntington's Historical Checks

This week Huntington Bank brought their collection of 16 historical checks signed by Presidents for display here!

We've gotten some great newspaper coverage about it (click here for the Repository's article, click here for the Akron Beacon Journal's article). This is truly a one-of-a-kind collection, and we're THRILLED to have them here.

When the checks arrived on Wednesday, I was guarding the box while the delivery men went back out to their truck to get the cases. I reached down to pick one up, and as I looked at it, I could hardly believe what I was holding.

A check from 1799, signed by GEORGE WASHINGTON.

Amazing! I mean, honestly, AMAZING.

There aren't very many people who have the opportunity to hold something George Washington touched! (Even if the check was framed)

It reminded me of how privileged I am to work in a museum. I get to see things close up that most people have to view through the glass or from behind the ropes. I get to handle unique artifacts every day in my line of work. Some are attached to famous people, but others are just as impressive because they are beautiful, or very old, or rare.

It is humbling to think of my career in that context. I am the caretaker of history, for the future. It is an incredible responsibility, and is not something I take lightly. But on the other hand, I am bewildered at the opportunities I have to experience history first-hand.

Back to the checks.

The following Presidents are represented in the exhibition:
  • William McKinley
  • John Q Adams
  • James Garfield
  • U.S. Grant
  • Warren G Harding
  • Benjamin Harrison
  • William Henry Harrison
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • James Madison
  • James Monroe
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • William Howard Taft
  • George Washington
The checks are on display in Gallery B of The Stark County Story, near the 1950s kitchen.

They will only be on view for a limited time, so be sure to stop in soon! They will be leaving on February 28.

I'm back!

As you can see from my previous post, the computer issues that were preventing me from posting photos have mysteriously disappeared!!


I had grown so frustrated with not being able to post how I wanted to, I have been terrible at updating the blog. Now that I can do what I want to do again, you'll be hearing from me a lot more often!

That's Entertainment! exhibit

Restored Laff in the Dark cart from Meyers Lake!

We had a FANTASTIC exhibit opening for That's Entertainment on Friday February 10! It was a record crowd for us, with many new faces!

The exhibit explores what we did for fun over the past 200 years, including restaurants, shopping, hotels, sports, the 1955 Sesquicentennial, Meyers Lake, Mother Gooseland, theaters, opera houses, the circus, and more!

Dresses, coats, hats and purses from Stern & Mann, O’Neils, and Polsky’s are on display. Visitors can view Frank Lahm’s flight journal documenting the first balloon ascension of the Aero Club of Ohio, and sterling silver pieces from the Onesto and St. Francis hotels. Local artist Su Nimon’s prints of Canton’s “hot spots” are also be featured.

Perhaps the biggest draw is the restored Laff in the Dark cart from Meyers Lake, on loan to us from Dave Thomas.

Come in and see the exhibit -- you'll LOVE IT!

Here are some highlights (which can never compare to seeing the REAL THING!):

Bells / bottle openers from Bender's

Shoes purchased at Stern & Mann

Su Nimon's print "The Palace at Night"

American Legion baseball uniform