Our First Glimpse

Constance Glynn, English/History, 2013

A couple of days ago, my class traveled to the Saco Museum to get our first real glimpse at our gallery space. Saco Museum’s gallery space is one of the largest in Maine and soon John Haley’s Civil War will drape its walls and crowd its floor.

We first toured the museum, astonished at how much space we had to tell our story. Yet, when we started looking at floor plans, it became evident that this story and the many years that make up the story could easily take up four of these galleries. It’s both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, but my class seems willing and eager.

We sketched out how we wanted the floor to be set up; we placed moveable walls and large pieces of furniture in our plans to help add a sense of direction. Floor plans are critical in museums because the movement of our audience needs to make sense and help embellish the story we’re trying to tell. And it is just that: a story. Who was John Haley? What is his connection to Maine? What is Maine’s connection to the Civil War? All of these answers need to be contained in this red-carpeted and dimly lit room for May 5th.

On our second visit to the museum this week, we toured the archives of the Saco Museum and Dyer Library. At times it felt like we had been transported back to the 1920s and found ourselves in a clerk’s office. The yellowed documents and gold-embellished gilt-edged books practically fall off their shelves. The sight is overwhelming (but eye-pleasing and heart-warming to book nerds and history buffs) so we were all in our element. We made our way through the maze of artifacts and archives, musing over substantially large vaults and little trinkets along the way.

After we had our tour, we had to break up into groups to decide what we wanted to use for artifacts in our exhibit. This is another crucial part of our story. The artifacts are tangible evidence of the past. They give a sense of history and time to our audience, provoking notions of being present in the past. The art of bringing together the present and the past is something we will master in the next couple of months, all to tell this story we have all come to know and love.

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