Thursday, October 21, 2010


When visitors tell me they haven't been to Log Cabin Village in ten or twenty years, my first response typically sounds something like, "well everything's the same but different." Sure, they'll recognize the iconic log structures and perhaps some of the crafts demonstrated, but the Village itself is a living, breathing, dynamic museum.

Exhibits change based on a number of factors. Sometimes we acquire "new" artifacts. Other times we learn new information that can change our interpretation of a structure. Sometimes we just get bored with how the furniture is arranged. We've made changes because of visitor interest (i.e. converting the Seela to a hands-on cabin) and because of massive rehabilitation (i.e. the Howard Cabin). We've also made changes to protect artifacts (i.e. moving the trunk away from a light source in the Parker bedroom).

Recently we changed a couple more areas within the museum.

The first example falls into the "new information" category. The Tompkins Cabin, as you may remember if you've visited, used to have a large ladder leading up to the loft. When we recently uncovered (through new research) that family members actually accessed the loft by jumping up from the foot of the bed to the nightstand and up. This made the loft truly hidden!

Old configuration of the Tompkins Cabin--ladder on left, bed turned

New configuration of Tompkins. Note hole for loft up above...

Farther away...view of full foot of the bed.

Not only does this new configuration conform to the new historical evidence we uncovered, it also, handily, gives our historical interpreters greater freedom of movement and better access to help keep the cabin safe and clean. Win-win! Plus, it helps freshen both the interpretation and the visitor experience.

Our second recent project was borne of necessity. Our hall light over our guest register in the Foster House burnt out for the 102nd time, this time destroying its electrical cord. Amidst discussions about what to do about replacing it, we decided that perhaps it was time to change things up a bit.
We switched the location of the pie safe and the guest register table. Voila! A new configuration that provided great lighting for our guest register and low light (for preservation) for the pie safe emerged. We love it! We even moved the donation box over to the guest area to facilitate free movement through this main hall/Village access point.

Pie safe in new location

New guest register location right outside museum store

Donation box with "visitor information center"

So as you can see, rather than being afraid of change, we openly embrace it. This capacity for change is what will enable us to connect visitors with the past for generations to come.

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