Friday, January 31, 2014

Saying goodbye to A Secret Gift

I just took a "farewell tour" of A Secret Gift in the Keller Gallery.  I have become rather attached to this story and the exhibit, so it is very difficult for me to think about taking this one down.

It has been a wonderful run!  Our partnership with One Book, One Community and the Canton Symphony Orchestra boosted attendance at all of our events.  We were able to bring so many elements of this story to life -- from the dramatization to the exhibition to the concert and everything in between.

I received word last week that our panel discussion for the 2014 Ohio Museums Association conference was accepted!  The Museum, the Symphony and One Book, One Community are all sending representatives to talk about how our collaboration created such a fantastic community celebration of this story.

I've been in this business for 15 years now, 13 as your curator here at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum.  Only a handful of exhibitions have affected me like this one has.  I am truly sad to take it down, even as excited as I am to see what Black Wings looks like outside of its crates. 

I hope you had a chance to see A Secret Gift.  If not, you still have two more days.  It closes at 4:00 PM on Sunday February 2.  We are planning to add a section about Sam Stone and the B. Virdot letters to Gallery B of the permanent exhibition The Stark County Story.  Look for that later this year.

Thank you to everyone who came to visit the exhibition.  Your kind words in our Guest Book touched my heart, and I was humbled and proud to have played a small part in remembering Sam Stone. 

Sam Stone

Friday, January 24, 2014

McKinley Day program

Here is the program for McKinley Day!  (Click on each page to make it larger and more readable)

Friday, January 17, 2014


This is one of my favorite photos from McKinley Day.  I love how you can see the snowflakes falling. And for some reason, it looks like we held the ceremony in the middle of a forest!

Mark your calendars for January 25 to help us celebrate the President's birthday.  We are currently working on finalizing the program for the day.  I'll post it when we're finished so you can see what's happening when.

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MuseLab at Kent State

Yesterday I attended the first meeting of the Advisory Council for Kent State's new MuseLab, which is part of the Kent State School of Library & Information Science.  It is located on the 3rd floor of the library.

The space is very impressive!  It has only been officially "open" for a few months.  There are two gallery spaces -- the "wall gallery" and the main gallery.  The wall gallery is 30 linear feet and about 2 feet deep.  I didn't ask about the square footage of the main gallery, but I would estimate it was about 700-800 square feet.

The MuseLab also includes some whiz-bang equipment for producing exhibitions.  They have a plotter, a vent hood, a large work table, and all kinds of other resources for creating exhibitions in that space.

Part of the role of the Advisory Council is to help determine how the space is going to be used, as well to promote the space itself.  Groups can use the space for meetings, retreats, workshops, etc. 

Museums can use the space to test out exhibit ideas.  I envision it being used to test exhibit copy or interactive ideas with a focus group.  Most museums don't have the space to set up those kinds of tests.  The MuseLab would be a perfect space for something like that.

Click here to learn more about MuseLab.  As the space continues to develop, I will post more about it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Funding for many projects


There was one more donation on Monday that I forgot to mention.  Our Car Show sponsor signed on for another year too!


Yesterday was a great day for donations!

We received funding for several projects on our list, including:
  • New exterior signage for the Monument
  • Ida Dress Project
  • Street of Shops dentist
  • General donation to the library
Along with the library donation, our Director received the following letter from a McKinley relative who visited this past summer:

Since I am his supervisor, our Archivist Mark Holland gave me a copy of the letter.  He's too modest to post it himself!

Now that the exterior signage project is funded, I'm going to start the design process.  When I'm finished, I will post the images here.  We will be replacing two signs at the Plaza level and one sign at the entrance at the end of the double drive.  We are aiming for a spring installation date.

COMING SOON to the Keller Gallery - Black Wings

Here's a peek at one of the photos featured in the Smithsonian traveling exhibition Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight. It opens in the Keller Gallery on February 7 with a FREE opening reception from 6:00 tp 7:30 PM.

The exhibition is sponsored nationally by the MetLife Foundation and locally by the Timken Company Charitable and Educational Fund.

I'll share more about the exhibit in the coming days and weeks!

The Tuskegee Airmen, 1944

The extraordinary works of the Tuskegee Airmen caused the black press to publicize not only their achievements, but those of other black servicemen. The press they both received led many to call for the end of racial segregation in American society.

 Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Monday, January 13, 2014

A fresh new look for the library!

The new year has brought some much anticipated changes to the Museum's library!

Last week Archvist Mark Holland and our maintenance staff completed a transformation of the space, making it much more open and inviting for our growing number of researchers.

With the new configuration, it will now be possible to host workshops and classes in the library.  We have been planning a series of collection care workshops in April that will take place in this space.  Details will be coming soon!

We have added several new library volunteers over the past few months.  They now have specific work stations set up for their collection projects, inlcuding answering research requests, cataloging new donations, re-organizing the clipping file, and creating finding aids for our vast collection. 

We recently purchased PastPerfect software for use in the library.  We upgraded it to include the digital imaging module which allows you to add photographs, as well as audio and film clips, for each donation.  A major inventory of the entire collection is well underway.  The end result will be a searchable database of all archival materials in the library.

The library is open from 9 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday.  No research request is too big or too small!  If you have a question about Stark County's past, call or email.  Click here for contact information.

In the meantime, check out the new look!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New donation -- fashion design drawings!

Yesterday we received an amazing donation of fashion design drawings by local designer Richard Boczek!  There are two binders full of gorgeous drawings like this from the 1950s:

Each full color drawing is accompanied by a black and white sketch of a historical dress that was used as inspiration for the "modern" interpretation.  There are so many beautiful drawings, it was difficult to choose just a few to blog for now.

According to the donor, Richard Boczek and John Yunkes started a business in Canton called John-Richard Custom Gown Salon in 1956.  They were both active in the Canton Players Guild in the costume design department as well.  In the 1970s John and Richard went to work for Higbee's in Canton, Akron, and Cleveland.

The donation also included three dresses they designed.  Two have their label inside.  They aren't as glamorous as the examples in the drawings!  The dresses are pretty, but they were created with the average woman in mind.  

The collection contains a wealth of newspaper clippings about the men and their designs as well.  As we go through the papers, we will learn more about these men and their fantastic designs.

For now, here are some more examples from Richard's portfolio:

Monday, January 6, 2014

One last glimpse at Christmas!

Today we spent the morning un-decorating for Christmas.  Just like at home, it's bittersweet.  The trees are lovely and we've enjoyed them, but it's time to get things back to normal around here.

Lynette did a fantastic job taking over the monumental task of decorating the Museum this year!  Many thanks to her and all of the staff who stayed late one night in November and transformed the place.  It was like a winter wonderland!

We're in the process of converting all of our burned out lights to LEDs, so they will last longer and reduce the labor involved in re-lighting our trees.  We keep ours on for much longer than the average household, which leads to more blown bulbs over time.  It is also part of our long-term plan to reduce our energy costs as much as possible.

If you're interested in donating new LED lights or funds for us to purchase some, we would greatly appreciate it.  We are definitely going to need to re-stock our supplies before next year.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

In the blink of an's 2014!  Where did 2013 go? 

Life moves fast, especially here at the Museum.  We no sooner get done with one program/event/exhibition and it's time to start working on the next one!

In my department, January means two things:  McKINLEY DAY and BRIDAL SHOW.  This year it also means Black Wings.  Here's an update on these projects:

  • McKinley Day.  All invitations have been sent out and I'm waiting for confirmation about who will be attending.  I have heard from the Army and am thrilled to announce that for the first time (at least in the 13 years I've been doing this event) we have a female general coming this year! Major General Karen E. LeDoux, Commanding General of the 88th Regional Support Command, will be laying a wreath on behalf of President Obama.  McKinley Day is January 25.
  • Bridal Show.  Before I left for the holidays, I compiled a list of the people who have expressed interest in having their gowns in the show.  As it always does, the years fanned out naturally, so we will have a dress from almost every decade of the 20th century.  (Right now we are missing the 1910s).  I will be making phone calls next week to set up appointments for people to come in with their dresses and talk to me about their weddings.  The Bridal Show is April 5.  I'll be working on that a lot in the coming months, so expect plenty of updates!
  • Black Wings.  Next up in the Keller Gallery will be the Smithonian traveling exhibition Black Wings:  American Dreams of Flight.  It features the stories of African American pioneers in aviation.  I'm very much looking forward to this exhibit!  We have a very short installation time, so it will be a bit hectic between when A Secret Gift closes on February 2 and Black Wings opens on February 7!
I want to take this time to wish you all a very healthy and happy New Year.  2013 was a fantastic year for the Museum, and 2014 is going to be wonderful too!  Stay tuned for all the programs and events we have planned for you in the coming year.