Exhibit Outreach Program for Western NC

Many thanks to Matt Provancha, Exhibit Developer Extraordinaire at the Mountain Gateway Museum, for this guest post. 

vignette for the "North Carolina School for the Deaft, Then and Now" exhibit at the Historic Courthouse in Morganton

vignette for the “North Carolina School for the Deaf, Then and Now” exhibit at the Historic Courthouse in Morganton

Up until the mid-2000s, the Mountain Gateway Museum and Heritage Center was known as the Mountain Gateway Museum and Service Center. No, you couldn’t get an oil change or your tires rotated while you were learning about Appalachian history or touring one of the cabins. The designation “Service Center” referred to the museum’s Exhibit Outreach Program (EOP).  You see, since the museum joined the NC Department of Cultural Resources in the late 1970s, part of its mission has been to share the collective experience of its museum professionals with all the little history museums and historical societies in Western North Carolina. Since the Mountain Gateway Museum (MGM) is the smallest museum in the Division of History Museums (with the largest service area) this exhibit outreach program has greatly increased the impact our little museum has on our part of the Old North State, extending our reach well beyond our walls.

Matt Provancha designed this exhibit title panel for the Rural Life Center at Mars Hill University.

Provancha designed this exhibit title panel for the Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University.

Creating exhibits that cost from $30 to $3,000, the MGM has worked with numerous organizations’ budgets. From the creation of simple informational labels to the construction of museum-quality display cases, the EOP has helped non-profit, history-based organizations in our 39-county service area make their exhibit ideas into reality for more than 30 years. Here’s how it works:

  • We assist qualified agencies with planning their exhibits by utilizing their existing research to develop an organized and engaging storyline.
  • We advise them on collections care in the exhibit environment, and collections storage.
  • We help them design their exhibit layout, as well as simple informational and graphic exhibit elements.
  • We will design and fabricate exhibit elements, such as: display cases, artifact-specific mounts, and other exhibit furniture as necessary.
Provancha built this case for NCDCR's Western Office in Asheville.

Provancha built this case for NCDCR’s Western Office in Asheville.

Planning, consulting, design, and fabrication time/labor is provided free of charge.  The only cost to the interested agency is the cost of materials. MGM is lucky to have some key materials donated to us, so make no mistake: We can, and have, produced exhibits for as little as $30 in the past. [In fact, Gaylord just advertised a case nearly identical to the one I built for the NCDCR Western Office  with a starting price at $5,600. My case (at right) cost the Western Office in the neighborhood of $1,200.]

Utilizing the knowledge and resources of the EOP can open many avenues for history-based organizations interested in developing and displaying a high-quality museum exhibit at their institutions. For more information on this program, visit our website at MountainGatewayMuseum.org and click on “Outreach,” or give us a call at 828-668-9259.

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This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on February 17, 2015, in Exhibitions, guest bloggers, museums and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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