Monday, August 10, 2015

New Exhibit Coming Soon!

Over the past two summers Russell Library intern Kaylynn Washnock assisted in curating the new exhibit, “Seeing Georgia: Changing Visions of Tourism in the Modern South” opening September 18th in the Russell Library’s Harrison Feature Gallery. The exhibit investigates how the state transformed itself from a way station along the route to Florida into a tourist destination during the twentieth century. It addition to highlighting six popular destinations in Georgia the exhibit considers questions of access, preservation, and economics – who could go, how they got there, and what motivated them to visit different attractions. The exhibit also explores the professionalization of the tourism industry and the roles of modern amenities in shaping the modern tourist experience. This post is one in a series where Kaylynn offers a preview of the exhibition.   

Bud Freeman showing off WAY too
many rattlesnake rattlers!
The Russell Access and Outreach staff has been hard at work all summer preparing the script and design for the new Georgia tourism exhibit. After finalizing a draft of the script, the real fun began: choosing stuff for the exhibit! 

Article Bud showed us about the collector
of all of those rattles (over 1,000).
Since the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is home to several different plant and animal species we took a visit to the Georgia Museum of Natural History was in order.  Dr. Byron “Bud” Freeman, Senior Public Service Associate and Director of the Georgia Museum of Natural History, was gracious enough to give us a tour and identify animal specimens from the collection that inhabited the swamp. Perhaps the most intriguing, yet also terrifying, thing we saw was a box full of rattlesnake “rattles” collected by a ranger during his time spent studying the Okefenokee Swamp. 

Jill (head of AOU at Russell) and me
holding the chenille bedspread purchased
for the display.
We also searched for a chenille bedspread for an area of the exhibit that will highlight roadside culture. Called “Peacock Alley” or “Bedspread Boulevard,” the section of U.S. Highway 41 in northwest Georgia near Dalton, became known for the peacock designed chenille bedspreads that flapped in the wind at roadside stands. By the 1930s the homegrown industry had evolved into a business employing 7,000 local workers.

Me taking a closer look at the 16mm
footage from the Sanders Collection.
Finally, choices had to be made concerning what audio-visual footage we would display on the monitors in the gallery. We were very interested in a reel of 16mm footage of a Welcome Center dedication ceremony from the early 1960s that had not been seen in decades and needed to be transferred. This film, along with other reels, were donated to the UGA Law School, who then turned to the Russell Library to care for and provide access to the films. We are currently working to have this footage digitized with help from our colleagues in the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and plan on using this rare clip in the exhibit. Other items I viewed included several from the home movie collection, also part of the Brown Media Archives. Silent footage of family picnics, kids frolicking on the beach and families loading up their campers all made frequent appearances in these videos and will appear on the opening monitor, welcoming people into the exhibit.

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