What do a mummy, a makeup kit and Buttons the bird have in common? The question is one that Ohio Historical Society officials hope visitors will contemplate in viewing the exhibit " Transformation," which had its opening yesterday at the Ohio History Center.
What do a mummy, a makeup kit and Buttons the bird have in common?
The question is one that Ohio Historical Society officials hope visitors will contemplate in viewing the exhibit “ Transformation,” which had its opening yesterday at the Ohio History Center.
Borrowing the template from the recent exhibits “Controversy” and “Controversy 2,” officials chose five items from the collection for a show in which visitors encounter each in a space of its own.
“Our goal is to engage visitors and provoke conversation,” said Shannon Thomas, the society’s communication manager.
No conclusion is right or wrong, noted Jason Crabill, the society’s manager of curatorial services.
“We wanted to make the idea of transformation as open-ended as possible,” he said. “What’s meaningful to you may be different from someone else. Our job is to create some guidance and context that can help people with interpretation.”
As an example, Crabill brought up the Egyptian mummy, named Amunet.
“What’s transformational to you about the mummy may be the story about life and the afterlife,” he said. “For us, part of the story is her going from an unknown to a known person.”
The first item that visitors see is a Max Factor makeup kit from 1920s vaudeville — illustrating the ease and power of a physical transformation as well as the switch from actor to character.
Next are three segments of rope used to hang conspirators involved in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Four conspirators were hanged.
Thereafter, visitors see the dress worn by Jackie Mayer of Sandusky when the Ohioan was named Miss America in 1963. The dress represents the transformation from private to public life.
Amunet comes next, followed by Buttons — thought to be the last passenger pigeon found in the wild and shot in 1900 by a boy in Pike County.
Buttons, named because the amateur taxidermist used shoe buttons for the eyes, represents how humans have transformed the natural world.
The exhibit’s Sept. 11 opening date was no coincidence.
“That was one of our biggest national transformations,” said Thomas, referring to the 2001 terrorist attack.
As with similar exhibits of the past, a room at the end is reserved for visitors to reflect and write down thoughts.
“What we’ve learned is that there is power in objects,” Crabill said. “As curators, we can step back and let the objects speak for themselves, and people will respond to that well.”