By Tori Riley, Curatorial and Education Intern
As you all may know, the CCHS
has underwent a massive change in the past couple of months. The Bank Gallery
was completely redone. The redesign process began my first week here at the
museum and it has provided me with the unique opportunity to watch the changes
Our first task was preparing the
walls to be redesigned. This entailed taking off all of the old text panels and
pictures. In order to do that, we had to scrape all of the walls, which was
definitely an interesting process. This was actually one of the first tasks I
did here at CCHS, and let’s just say I was a bit over dressed the first
day. Nevertheless, I learned the most
efficient ways and gathered only a few nicks and bruises. By the end of the
tearing down stage, I officially knew the best way to take adhesive off the
walls (it is a combination of fabric softener and elbow grease). I also had some entertaining stories to share
with my friends at school about scraping walls.
I also had the opportunity to
help with the Exhibit Committee, which is made up of our Curator, Erin Doane,
Educator, Kelli Huggins, and Archivist, Rachel Dworkin. This committee works to
develop and design the different exhibits that come to CCHS. They also write labels and approve on the
general layout of the space. Additionally, they help to select objects and
images that will fill the space. The meetings consist of going over layouts,
editing labels and touring the space to visualize the space. Again, this was an incredible learning
experience of Oxford commas and creating the narrative of the county. Half of
the exhibit describes the history of Chemung County (which admittedly I knew
very little about prior to my internship). The other half highlights Mark
Twain’s Elmira (you can learn what a Sanatorium is!).
If you have been to the museum
in the past, you will know that there were a lot of cases and walls. The newly redesigned
Bank Gallery features a completely new floor plan. To do this, we shifted all
of the cases around. Well not necessarily us because a company was hired to do
most of the heavy lifting (no pun intended).
The day before the big move, however, we moved many of the smaller cases
out of the way and shifted some walls. When I came back that Wednesday the
Gallery was completely redone. Erin and I worked to set the cases, risers and
some of the smaller objects.
I have also been able to work
with Kelli (Education Coordinator here at CCHS) to develop several of the
interactive for the exhibit. These will be drawers and stations that you get to
touch and experience history. I will not spoil these but I do want to let you
know that the Civil War interactive is my personal favorite. Also, make sure
you check out the Gilded Age entertainment one too!
One of the coolest things about the exhibit was the giant printer! This
printer is like five feet wide and can print up to 44 inches of paper, this
actually was my staff pick a few weeks ago. All of the text panels, images and
labels came from this behemoth of a printer. Although, it was a little nerve
wracking putting up the text panels, Erin is a professional, so I let her take
The opening was next on our
list. I was gone for a week on our midterm break and when I arrived back at the
museum, it was four days before the opening! There was just a few last minute
items to be done, just some clean ups,
setting objects, and of course, testing
the interactives. Then, before everyone knew it, it was Thursday and time for
the opening. It was a rousing success and I hope everyone enjoyed it.
It is hard to describe the
feeling of accomplishment that I had, as I watched the gallery come together. It was always a little surreal to walk into the gallery and see it dissembled and think, "How are we ever going to finish this?". But we did and it was an excellent experience.
One of the nicest things was that my opinions mattered and I have a piece of
myself in that exhibit. I hope to see
you at the museum soon. Remember to grab
a selfie with Mark Twain!