Michigan Museums Association (MMA) recognizes bicentennial exhibit at its annual luncheon on Oct. 29
BIRMINGHAM, MI, October 30, 2018—The Michigan Museums Association (MMA) honored the Birmingham Museum for its “The People of Birmingham: 200 Years of Stories,”, lauding its unique and engaging approach to sharing Birmingham’s history through personal stories submitted by the public as part of the celebration of the city’s bicentennial. The museum received the Outreach Programming Award that the MMA bestows on exceptional programs, exhibits, and individuals during the MMA’s annual luncheon held on Monday, October 29. The museum was nominated by Museum Board member Lori Eaton.
Among the goals of the exhibit was to connect with the community and reflect the people who have made Birmingham special, and to reach new audiences in the process, objectives that are integral to the museum’s mission and strategic plan. Since participants were invited to share photos and loan artifacts as well, the museum also hoped to gain new information for the museum’s archives that would help future researchers. But what the museum didn’t anticipate was the spike in memberships, social media activity, object donations, and the surfacing of amazing photos and artifacts for the museum’s collection.
“It surpassed our expectations by a mile,” said Museum Director, Leslie Pielack. “We have had the best of all worlds-we gained so much for the museum while giving the community a chance to share their collective history and document it for future generations.” The museum will be creating an online exhibit and producing a printed booklet of the contributed stories after the exhibit closes in January of 2019.
The core of the exhibit, however, according to Pielack, has been the focus on the community and bringing people together. “While most museum exhibits are curated by museum professionals, “The People of Birmingham: 200 Years of Stories” exhibit was created by those who live and work in the community and who have a strong connection to Birmingham, past and present,” Pielack noted. A special reception was held in May to celebrate the contributors and the people whose stories are featured. Attendees brought friends and family and shared more stories at the gathering. “There really was no model of a crowd-sourced museum exhibit for us to use,” added Pielack. “The museum staff just put our heads together and came up with this approach.”
“The Birmingham Museum may be a small museum, but the creativity and level of community engagement its staff showed in facilitating this exhibit demonstrate the size of their imagination and commitment,” said Lori Eaton. “The success of this exhibit is just one example of how the museum continues to prove its value as an asset to the City of Birmingham and the region.” The exhibit can be viewed through December, 2018. Find out more at the Birmingham Museum at 248-530-1928 or visit us online at www.bhamgov.org/museum.
The Birmingham Museum is located at 556 West Maple. Exhibit hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., and until 8:00 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month. Two hours of free parking is available at the Chester Street Parking Deck; credit card required for entry and exit. For more information, call 248-530-1928 or visit www.bhamgov.org/museum . Museum admission is $7 for adults; $5 for students and seniors. Kids 5 and under and Friends of the Birmingham Museum members are free.