Thursday, August 1, 2013

Making Changes to a Gallery

     A few weeks ago I wrote about the Recruiting gallery at my museum, since it was about to be updated.  If you need to refresh your memory and see some of the "before" photos, that post is here.   

     We’ve recently finished with the first phase of changes to the gallery.  As you might expect, making changes to a museum gallery involves quite a bit of planning and teamwork among the museum staff.  Ideas for the new displays must be researched and developed, some appropriate artifacts must be chosen and prepared for display, informational panels and labels need to be written and printed, and mounts for the artifacts and labels must be produced or recycled from the previous display.  Several of us work together when it is time to install the new displays. 

     For this gallery update, we decided to make the changes in two phases.  Today, I’ll show you what we accomplished in the first phase.

     The display case containing the instruments used by recruiting bands just got a little facelift.

We added some window clings to the exhibit case doors here to help convey the feeling of patriotism which the recruiting bands were trying to create in the prospective recruits.

Here is our newest interactive display, called, “Became a Soldier or Sent Home?”  Visitors must guess which medical conditions would have prevented the men from being recruited.  The answers are behind the doors.

     This panel was only up for a few minutes before our visitors started opening the doors and reading the answers.  We did an informal poll while we were working there and discovered that our visitors were surprised at many of the answers!  This panel continues to be a popular draw in the gallery.

This door identifies a potential recruit, Caleb, as having lost his big toe.  Do you think he would have been recruited?  The answer behind the door reads, “Sent home.  Most soldiers had to march for long distances, and the loss of either big toe would make that very difficult.”

          The recruiting display case was changed as well.  This one required the most effort!  

Even though some of the artifacts in the case were going to remain there on display, all the artifacts need to be removed from the case while we were working.  I put them on this padded cart to transport them back to the collection area.   

The case looks pretty empty now, but notice that there are still pieces of adhesive stuck to the back wall.  These will all have to be removed before the new background images can be installed. 

Now that the new background is in, the lights inside the case need to be adjusted. 

While I’m working on the case our exhibit designer, Dennis, puts up the new panels.

And, here’s the finished case, complete with artifacts which relate to recruiting.

     Phase two will involve adding a couple more artifacts to the case, and installing two more interactive displays to the gallery.  Check back later to find out what else becomes part of our new Recruiting gallery!

Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

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