I want a chaise. Do I need a cornerstone?
There are so many choices and options when it comes to an exhibit. For the time period I'm studying (Lethbridge 1906-1913), there are over 1700 objects in our Collection and it's also possible, of course, to borrow from other museums and collections if necessary. Objects need to be studied and chosen. Photographs picked. Decisions made about marketing and promotional displays. And through it all it is important to keep asking a few questions. Is this item "needed" to tell the story? Or is it just something that I "want" to have in the exhibit. Some decisions are easy. Some are much more difficult.
First, display decisions. One we had to make was an in-house promotion that goes over the doorway into our Viewing Gallery. It needed to be something that could handle the light in that room, be large enough to grab attention, showcase aspects of the exhibit and, hopefully, get people wondering about the exhibit and build interest in the exhibit. And it had to fit that space and be easily put together. Using a 1911 photograph of a building decorated for the coronation, the display below was constructed. The first photograph shows Brad Brown, Exhibit Designer, installing the display. The second photograph shows the finished product. Thanks to Susan Burrows Johnson for preparing the cloth bunting and Anine Vonkeman for getting the poster done.
Object choice is always fun. What objects will best tell the story? Some choices are easy.
The whistle and farebox from the Lethbridge streetcars (which started in 1912) are an on obvious choice.
Others are much more problematic. One area of the exhibit looks at buildings of the time -- buildings we lost and buildings that remain as a legacy from 1906-1913. I have always thought that an authentic and powerful way to tell the story of buildings lost were with some of the pieces in our collection from some of these lost buildings.
Sounds simple enough but these are 4000 lb. cornerstones (from Fleetwood School on the left and Central School on the right). Do I truly NEED the cornerstones to tell the story? Can I do it in another way? I'm still pondering this...
And then there's the interactive parlour (where you'll be able to sit, look through books and documents from the time and immerse yourself in music and more). We have found a great many cool items for this area, including a tea cart and table, two rocking chairs from the time period, a few other small chairs, many nicknacks, doilies, decanters and much more. While we still have to decide if it will fit in, we even have a true chandelier (there was electricity and we'll have lamps in the exhibit but this is possible to centre the room). But what I really want is a chaise -- a large, grand, over the top one that will finish that room perfectly. Oh, and a Victrola that's not working so we can put modern equipment inside and have period music playing from the machine. And...