Postcards and Perceptions: Exhibit Installation

Hello, my name is Stephen Ast and I am the Exhibits Coordinator here at the museum. My position entails a number of different duties and responsibilities, but right now I am here to tell you about one of my main duties, which is exhibit installation.

Stephen Ast working on Postcards and Perceptions

Currently we are in the middle of installing our upcoming exhibit Postcards and Perceptions: Culture as Tourism, which opens here on February 12th. Installation of our new exhibit begins with the de-installation of our previous exhibit, The Randle/Sheffield Collection. Once all the photographs were taken down and had conditions reports done on them by the Collections teams and returned, the real work of installation was able to being. The first step for this exhibit was to completely strip the Mila-walls, this included all the black vinyl that had been on the walls for over 2 years. Mila-walls are an interlocking, modular wall system that allows us to arrange the gallery differently for each exhibit. They are fully paintable and patchable and this will be the first time since I have been here that we have been able to change the color. Currently, we are at a mid-way point in our installation. The walls were rearranged and painting is half way done, thanks to our Exhibits Manager Greg Palumbo. While he has been painting away in the gallery I have been in the lab mounting and framing all the postcards for the show.

Please keep in mind that while installation began for this show on January 19th, preparing for installation and the creation of the show began over a year ago. All artifacts, archival materials, text panels, labels and any other visual collateral that are part of the show have been picked out, inspected, designed and ordered well before installation begins. For example, I turned in all the text panels, banners and labels that I designed to our printer at the end of December to make sure they were ready with enough time to fix any problems, because no matter how much we plan there are always last minute issues. Last week we received all the printed material and it looks terrific, but there were a few minor things that needed to be changed. Luckily we planned for the extra time and will have everything in time to put it on the walls. And even to get the text panels to the printer took months of editing and design work. Overall, there is so much prep work before installation begins that every department within the museum contributes something and we would not be able to do our job with out their help, especially the Curator, Registrar, Conservator and Researcher.

From this point on there are still a number of things left to be done. The walls will be adjusted further, and then they will be painted. Following that, all cases will be moved in to the gallery, as well as all artifacts and text panels. Cases will be cleaned and filled while the two dimensional artifacts and panels are laid out and hung. These final weeks will be hectic and busy but they are the most exciting part of my job. So please, come out and enjoy our new exhibit Postcards and Perception: Culture as Tourism. I truly think it will be one of the most exciting exhibits we have ever done and I hope after you see it that you agree. Thank you.

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AIAC 2009-Welcome to the Craft Corner!

Hi, I’m Diana Stone, Education Coordinator at the Museum. During the American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC), Education staff provides a Craft Corner tent to allow the visitor to take part in the festivities.

 

Hi, I’m Diana Stone, Education Coordinator at the Museum. During the American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC), Education staff provides a Craft Corner tent to allow the visitor to take part in the festivities.  The Craft Corner started in 2007, as a way to engage the youth during the three-day festival and a place to reflect on the inspiring world of Native American art.

AIAC 2008 Craft Corner
AIAC Craft Corner – Transparencies

At any time during the festival you will find staff, parents, teachers, chaperones, etc. sharing and helping children with their crafts. These crafts tap into the aspiring artist in all of us. These crafts, much like the actual Seminole art sold at AIAC, are inspired by the traditions of the Seminole people. Crafts in years past have ranged from Woven Paper Fans shaped like palm fronds fans to painted transparencies of archival and collection images. This year we are creating patchwork bookmarks inspired by the famous patchwork clothing of the Seminoles. While you’re in the tent you will learn about how the patchwork designs have changed of over the years.

AIAC Craft Corner
AIAC Craft Corner - Paper Fans

It is interesting to see how each child makes the craft their own work of art. My favorite part of the Craft Corner is sitting down and talking with the children learning about how they experience AIAC.  I would also like to take this opportunity, to promote a new children’s activity brought to AIAC by the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (or THPO) who will be teaching children about archaeology. The THPO studies the objects left behind by Ancestors of Seminole and other Native Florida Tribes.

This is also my opportunity to mention all the great and wonderful activities for children, ages 1 to 100, to experience at our Museum.  All performances at AIAC and the Museum are family friendly. The performances come from the Seminole Tribe and tribes from across the nation. There will also be an alligator demonstration and a critter show. And if this blog is not enough to convince you to come, email me at dianastone@semtribe.com and I can tell you about the many other reasons you and your family should come to this event.
 

AIAC 2009 it’s almost here…

AIAC, it’s almost here…You can feel the excitement grow as the tents and stage are being set-up, the artists arrive on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation and set-up their booths filled with arts and crafts for your consideration and purchase.

AIAC, it’s almost here…You can feel the excitement grow as the tents and stage are being set-up, the artists arrive on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation and set-up their booths filled with arts and crafts for your consideration and purchase.  Some artists sell only what they make and some come with goods representing their broader Native community.

This year we have 39 artists from 6 states and 10 tribes (including many Seminole artisans) making the trip to join in the American Indian Arts Celebration.  As I look at the photographs of their work, I just can’t wait to meet the artists and see their artistry in person.

I sincerely hope that you are planning to be there.  From the first year I ever attended, I was impressed with the music, the dance, the beautiful art, the great food, the beauty of the Everglades and the blue November skies.  It is simply amazing! There will be fantastic musical performances daily from a variety of Seminole and other Native performers.

This is our 12th year presenting the AIAC and it remains such bargain entertainment and fun at only $9 per adult and $6 for students/seniors.  Engaging activities for all ages include a Craft Corner, Critter Show, Alligator Wrestling, Archaeological Information Tent, Raffle Tickets and of course the Museum itself.  You can view photos of previous AIAC events at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/photo_search.php?oid=46484093517&view=all

Friday, November 6 at 9am it all begins.  So come by and see me for I will be on the festival grounds in the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum tent.

On another topic, in my first blog, I mentioned our pending Direct Mail. Well it has mailed, so if you have gotten our mail, please join Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum today.  If you did not get the appeal, you can contact me for member information marybirch-hanson@semtribe.com or visit me during the 12th Annual AIAC.

The Oral History Program Hits the Road…

I left Florida bound for the Oral History Association Conference in Louisville Kentucky where I presented a paper called “Native American Oral Tradition v. Oral History: Dispelling Myths, Saving Language, Non-traditional Methods, and Unlikely Interpretations.”

I left Florida bound for the Oral History Association Conference in Louisville Kentucky where I presented a paper called “Native American Oral Tradition v. Oral History: Dispelling Myths, Saving Language, Non-traditional Methods, and Unlikely Interpretations.”  My paper highlighted some of the distinctions between oral history and oral traditions.  The paper was well received and opened the door for future discussions about how Native Americans define Oral History.

I then flew right from Kentucky to Portland, Oregon for the Tribal Archives Libraries and Museums (TALM) conference.  I taught back to back 4 hour workshops- Oral History for Beginners and Intermediate to Advanced Oral History.  The room was jam packed with people from Tribes all over the country and their employees.  Everyone was so enthusiastic to learn about Oral History and how to start a program, develop projects, use the latest technology, interview techniques, and much more. 

Elizabeth Lowman presenting at TALM 2009
Elizabeth Lowman presenting at TALM 2009

Some of the biggest concerns other Tribes had was collections access, language, and technology.  Participants talked about problems they were all facing with collections management, technological advances, and ethics.  In the end, participants walked away from the workshop with better understanding of Oral History, methods, technology, and everyone made connections with other people. 

Pedro Zepeda, the Museum’s Traditional Art Coordinator, and I are presenting about using oral histories in museums and Traditional Arts later on in the conference.  We look forward to assisting other Tribes as they grow and develop their own programs.  Another plus of attending the conference is looking forward to learning and being inspired by the work of other Tribes as well.