Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gentleman Scientist exhibit opens to wide acclaim

After months of planning and weeks of careful installation, Lew Wallace—Gentleman Scientist, the new interactive exhibit at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, has finally opened to wide public acclaim.

The sneak preview party, open to members of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society, was held on Friday, March 28, at the Museum and at the former Wallace home in Crawfordsville. Members enjoyed a wine and cheese reception while learning about the new exhibit from Museum Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “We are so grateful to our Science Advisory Committee for helping us conceptualize this exhibit,” said Catlin-Legutko in her remarks. “The staff and I have been engaged with this exhibit since last year, and it’s very gratifying to see it come to fruition.”

After the reception, members moved to the Carriage House Interpretive Center, which had been transformed into a creative workshop dedicated to Wallace’s achievements in the realms of invention, innovation and the natural world. Large-scale vinyl images of Wallace’s patent drawings have been reproduced and now hang on the walls, next to some of his inspiring quotations. Artifacts from Wallace’s avocation as an inventor sit side by side with his fishing equipment and original materials he used in the construction of his unique Study building. A special Creativity Station invites both children and their families to design and build their own structures out of Lego® blocks, or to draw their own inventions and have them specially “patented” by staff with a specialized Museum seal embosser.

Another exciting addition to the new exhibit is the collection of backpacks filled with binoculars, field guides and drawing supplies that visitors can check out and utilize on the Museum’s shady grounds to become a true nature observer. Instructions are included on methods of bird watching, identifying trees, and more.

The public opening of the “Gentleman Scientist” exhibit took place on Saturday, March 29, and a brisk day full of bright sunshine greeted visitors from throughout the region as they came to the Museum. “Visitation is up markedly since the beginning of March,” said Museum Associate Director Amanda Wesselmann. “We had quite a crowd today, coming to see both the new exhibit and the Study. We hope this momentum carries throughout the exhibit year.”
The upcoming year features events and educational programming that complement the “Gentleman Scientist” theme, including community favorites the Lew Wallace Youth Academy and the second-annual Taste of Montgomery County. The next events in the 2008 exhibit year are Park Day on April 5, an annual comprehensive cleanup of the Museum grounds in preparation for the coming year, and Lew Wallace’s Birthday Celebration on April 10, a party for children and their families celebrating Wallace’s 181st birthday with games, gifts, refreshments, and the planting of the new Lew Wallace Children’s Garden.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lew Wallace--Gentleman Scientist exhibit opens 3/29

Lew Wallace's fascinating and little-known avocation as inventor, innovator and naturalist will be the focus of this year's exhibit theme, Lew Wallace-Gentleman Scientist, opening Saturday in the Carriage House Interpretive Center of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum.

The museum staff has been busy selecting related artifacts, composing the narrative that will serve as label copy, fabricating vinyl panel reproductions of some of Wallace's patent drawings, and constructing hands-on activities that will appeal to children and adults alike."Just like last year's Wallace Women exhibit, we are designing the Gentleman Scientist exhibit in a way that visitors will be able to relate to Lew Wallace's lessons of innovation and conservation and apply them to their own experiences," said Museum Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. "People will see Wallace's solutions to some of the problems of his day, and they'll be encouraged to test out their own."
Some of the interactive elements of this year's exhibit include a patent drawing station where children can design their own inventions and have them specially "patented" and displayed inside the Carriage House. "We have a special embosser that we'll use to certify visitors' drawings as 'official' Museum patents," said Catlin-Legutko.

For even younger visitors, the Gentleman Scientist exhibit will introduce a colorful component. Using Lego® blocks, children (and their parents) will be encouraged to copy Wallace's design of his unique Study building or to create a Study of their own. "Lew Wallace's Study reflects a design that is uniquely his, something that fulfilled all of his needs," Catlin-Legutko said. "We're excited to see what visitors can dream up for themselves."

Accompanying the Gentleman Scientist exhibit will be a full year of educational programming and community events that revolve around the theme. New this year are an architectural discovery walking tour and "Discovery Saturday," an assortment of hands-on education stations located throughout the Museum and grounds that illustrate lessons of innovation and the natural world.

In addition, the Museum's successful annual programs such as the Lew Wallace Youth Academy, the Artists in Residence Program and the Brown Bag Book Club will showcase themes that tie in to the exhibit.For members of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society, the Museum will host a special Sneak Preview Party on Friday at 5 p.m. Members will be able to take a first look at the Gentleman Scientist exhibit amid refreshments and camaraderie with the Staff and Trustees.Invitations to members were mailed last week. The public opening of the exhibit takes place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

General Lew Wallace Study & Museum Nominated for National Medal


Museum nominated for outstanding collaboration with and service to the Crawfordsville community

CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, March 3, 2008— The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville has been nominated for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums that help to make their communities better places to live.

The Museum’s nomination was submitted by Heritage Preservation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving America’s collections ( The Museum has worked with Heritage Preservation in their Conservation Assessment Program (CAP), and Museum Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko was selected to participate in the Connecting to Collections Summit, co-hosted by Heritage Preservation in 2007. She also serves on the CAP Advisory Committee representing America’s small museums.

“It is a thrill and honor to be nominated by Heritage Preservation, an organization I look to for museum resources and advice,” said Catlin-Legutko. “The Museum has been striving for excellence over the past five years and it’s wonderful to be recognized for our efforts. And, this is an incredible honor for Crawfordsville and Montgomery County.”

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service honors outstanding institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Selected institutions demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach and core programs generally associated with its services.

With the site’s rich history and the inherent lessons applicable for today, a primary goal of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum has been to improve community engagement through preservation efforts, exhibits, and educational programming. Beginning in 2003, the organization started taking steps toward realizing this goal by thinking outwardly about its purpose and meaning. The results of these introspective steps have materialized in a variety of new programs and outreach initiatives that have captured the attention of the entire Montgomery County community, and beyond.

With such programs as the Lew Wallace Youth Academy, Artists in Residence and the “Learning with Lew” educational programming series, the Museum has evolved from a storehouse of Wallace’s belongings to a true, interactive community partner whose efforts are being recognized nationwide.

National Medals are awarded annually by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (, the primary source of federal funding for museums and libraries, in conjunction with the White House. Previous award winners include Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium and Brookfield Zoo, the Miami Museum of Science and the Frankfort Community Public Library. 2008 award recipients will be announced in November.