Museum unveils new permanent exhibit

By Joseph Slacian

About a dozen people were on hand Friday afternoon when officials from the Wabash County Historical Museum unveiled its new, permanent exhibit: “Faces of Change.”

The exhibit, located on the museum’s second floor, features 18 local individuals who have influenced change in rural America. It is sponsored by Midwest Eye Consultants in partnership with Indiana Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The museum was awarded a grant to host a local program exploring themes from a traveling Smithsonian exhibit called “Crossroads: A Change in Rural America.” The grant allowed officials to design a local program based on the Smithsonian theme.

“We were able to design a program based on change in rural America, and we were able to put a Wabash County spin on it,” Museum President and CEO Mitch Figert said during the ceremony.

When compiling the exhibit, he said, museum officials wanted to incorporate residents from throughout Wabash County.

“We wanted people that influenced change throughout Wabash County and in a variety of ways,” Figert said. “They’re not all deceased. Some of these people are still influencing change today.”

Putting the exhibit together was at times easy, and at times “we thought we were cursed,” he joked, noting that finding information or items for the three-dimensional exhibits was at times difficult.

Figert also noted that many people from around Wabash County have influenced change in the area, and they will be featured later in the permanent, rotating exhibit.

“We’ll be taking things in and out,” he said.

The exhibit also is interactive, and museum visitors can answer various questions posed by the museum staff. The current question is “What is your favorite exhibit in Wabash County?”

“We’ll collect that data and hold that,” he said. “It might be information that’s important to, say, Grow Wabash County.”

Four questions also are featured with the exhibit, and visitors can answer them on forms provided by the museum.

Next spring, Figert added, a speaker series will take place to coincide with the exhibit.

Among those featured in the exhibit is Jim Ridenour, former director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources before becoming director of the National Park Service under President George H. W. Bush’s administration.

“It’s really neat,” Ridenour said of the exhibit. “I’ve been kind of concerned about what’s going to happen to all this stuff that shows what my life has been like. My kids live in California. Wabash is where I grew up. Wabash is my home. If my kids want to see my stuff they can come to Wabash.

“I think the museum is doing a great job with it. The display looks great.”

Indiana Humanities representative Megan Telligman also was on hand for the unveiling.

“I think Mitch and his team have done a beautiful job finding these exemplary figures that have changed the community for the better,” she said. “It’s truly inspirational to see all these stories laid out.”

Posted on 2019 Nov 05