Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Museum's Year Closes with a Trill

A flute trio from the Wabash College orchestra treated visitors to the Holiday Open House to a selection of seasonal music. Dozens of visitors enjoyed music, treats, crafts, and free tours of the General's Study.

Join us when we reopen for the spring on February 1, 2010. The Museum will be open to tours by appointment only through January.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


December 13 also the final day for public to view “Embattled” exhibit

CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, December 6, 2009— The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum is hosting a free Holiday Open House on their last operating day of 2009, Sunday, December 13 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The Open House takes place inside the Carriage House Interpretive Center, which is gloriously outfitted in yuletide décor, featuring a Christmas tree decorated in the minimalist style of the Civil War era. Festive activities and toasty treats will be on hand, as well as a fun holiday craft project for the kids.

The Open House will also be the final opportunity for visitors to see the Museum’s 2009 exhibit, Embattled: General Wallace’s Leadership in the Civil War. This year’s exhibit featured authentic artifacts of General Wallace’s from the 1860s alongside a thorough investigation of Wallace’s service in the Civil War. The exhibit was guest curated by Gail Stephens, Wallace scholar and author whose book on Wallace will be released next year.

Admission to the Museum during the Holiday Open House is free. Call 765-362-5769 or email study@ben-hur.com for further information. December 13 is also the final day of the 2008 Museum season. The Museum will be closed through January and reopen for tours on Sunday, February 3, 2010.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Now that December is upon us, the gardens at the Study have been prepared for winter. Lantana has been lifted, pruned and repotted. They are kept alive in a cool greenhouse over the winter months, pruned and fertilized in the early spring, and will be ready for planting outdoors in late May.

Cannas and elephant ears have been lifted, cleaned and are ready for storage in the basement of the Study. In the past, we have had only mild success storing cannas, soI'm trying new technics this year. The cannas have been dug, the foliage cut back and bulbs have been cleaned of most soil.

Storage space is limited, so the bulbs will be layered in boxes with a soil-less mix (mostly peat moss) cushioning the bulbs. In the past, no soil was added and some of the bulbs shrivelled. Hopefully, the soil-less mix will help incubate the bulbs. The Study basement is not quite cool enough (45-50 degrees is ideal for storing), but I'm placing the bulbs in the coolest, darkest, dry spot in the basement.

Most of the perennials are cut back and shredded leaves are added to the garden for some extra winter protection. Plans are underway for a great 2010 season. Planting the gardens to look different every year, using period (1885-1905) plants and flowers require loads of research and many enjoyable hours looking through gardening catalogs, books and historical periodicals.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Third Annual Holiday High Tea Benefits General Lew Wallace Study and Museum

One-of-a-kind event features holiday décor, refreshments, fashion show and door prizes

CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, November 22, 2009— Holidays and history bring the community together for the third annual Holiday High Tea and Fashions, a benefit for the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society scheduled for Friday, December 4, between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m.

This year’s event will be at the Herron House at 406 W. Wabash Ave., an historic building owned by Wabash College and carrying a great deal of community history. “General Lew Wallace used to sit on the veranda for hours at a time,” said Alice Phillips, who currently resides in the house with her husband, Dean of the College Gary Phillips. “He and William [Herron] were good friends and they would talk for hours about the issues of the day.” Among some of the house’s most beautiful features are the curved grand staircase, five hand-carved fireplaces, and stained glass windows that grace the front of the house and the lower level of the stairs.

The Holiday Tea is an open house complete with tea, sweets, and savory snacks served from the built-in dining room buffet. Local models will show off fashions from Formal to Fireside by heathcliff, and the Herron House will be decorated with seasonal floral arrangements by Milligan’s Flowers & Gifts. Door prizes from local merchants will also be drawn every half hour, giving event-goers several chances to win accessories and decorations to brighten their own homes.

“The holidays are about celebrating and giving, and we do both with this event,” said Anita Klein, chair of the Planning Committee. “The Holiday High Tea and Fashions is a chance to get together to enjoy food, fashion, and a festive atmosphere while supporting one of the gems of Crawfordsville.”

Reservations are $20 per person and due by December 2. No tickets will be available at the door. To reserve places for you and your guests, call the Museum at 765/362-5769.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pack rats

How do you pack over 1,200 books for storage? Very carefully...

Volunteers learned the procedure for packing up General Wallace's books.

Working in pairs, packing volunteers pulled books from the shelves individually, cross-referenced each title with the list to make sure we have a record of it, and made a packing list for each box. We did NOT use white cotton gloves like we usually do to handle artifacts because the cotton can catch fragile pages or bindings and do more harm than good. Instead, we washed our hands REALLY well several times during the workday.

The books were packed carefully in boxes lined with buffered tissue, and more fragile books were tied with white twill tape to make sure they don't fall apart when moved.

Collections Manager Amanda McGuire (center) led the charge by instructing volunteers and troubleshooting problems, and Wabash Archivist and Museum Board Member Beth Swift gave a ton of professional assistance!

We got a few surprises, too: who knew there were books behind books? No wonder we couldn't locate them during the inventory!

Now the boxes are numbered and ready to store. Thank you to all our packing volunteers and staff who came in especially for packing day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lew and the Snooze

Archaeologists have found evidence that clocks have existed as early as 400 BC clocks run on water existed in China and the Greeks had early mechanical clocks in the 1st century BC. In the early 13th century clocks even had alarms set on them to make a motion or sound at the same time everyday, which were often used to call monks to prayer or meals. These signals were fixed and in order to change them you had to change the fundamental mechanisms of the clock itself. It was also around this time that scholars find references to clocks made of gears and weights. These clocks worked in much the same way as the water counterparts in their use of gravity, but now there was a physical weight instead of pouring water. Whether it is by gears or water, clocks stayed the same for hundreds of years until the advent of microchips and digital technology.

So where, you ask, does Lew Wallace factor into all of these useless clock factoids? Well, the clock has undergone several innovations and improvements, one of which is the advent of the snooze button. Some people have mistakenly credited this to General Lew Wallace, but this just is not true. Says one blogger (http://www.thebluesmokeband.com/alarm.clocks.php), “Stated simply: the snooze button has left me less than satisfied. Given this, I naturally wanted to find a place to lay blame. Who better than the inventor of the snooze button: Lew Wallace.” A careful examination of the history of the clock and its many assets shows us why this just cannot be, but first we must absolutely decide what the snooze button really is.

The snooze button allows the clock owner to set an alarm on his/her clock and when the alarm signals the proper time the owner has the option of resetting that clock for a prescribed amount of time. It is possible to reset a mechanical alarm and even to do so with little effort, but it involves actually changing the alarm time. You cannot patent an action like that, so the snooze button must also involve the owner triggering some kind of predetermined signal that does not necessarily have to go off. This kind of manipulation of a clock was only really available until the General Electric-Telechron in 1956. Not too much later the digital revolution changed clocks forever.

General Wallace died in 1905, a full 51 years before the first marketed snooze alarm. He also could not have invented the alarm itself because an Ottoman engineer, Taqi al-Din, writes about a mechanical alarm clock in his book, The Brightest Stars for the Construction of Mechanical Clocks, which was published somewhere around 1556. Even in the United States the first clock patent goes to Eli Terry On November 17, 1797. It is just not possible for Lew Wallace to have invented the snooze alarm and in fact his own clock is a weight-driven Tiffany timepiece that is still functioning at the Museum.

Researched and written by museum intern Will Finney, Wabash College '10

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Time to Move

Before the onset of any cold rain typical of November in Indiana, we decided to remove some of the most significant artifacts from the Study in preparation of the Study Restoration Project. This week we moved Lew Wallace's custom-made grandfather clock from the Study to the Carriage House Interpretive Center.

Museum Director Larry Paarlberg and local clock specialist Hubert Danzebrink remove the weights and pendulum from the body of the clock.

Larry and three of the Crawfordsville Park and Recreation Dept. maintenance crew carry the clock from the Study building to its temporary home in the Carriage House Interpretive Center. Collections Manager Amanda McGuire instructed the guys not to wear gloves because gloves may make it more likely for the clock to slip from their hands, doing much more harm than the oils in their skin.

Larry, Chris and Bill carefully put the bonnet back over the works of the clock. There was not much room to spare! The clock looks even more stately in the smaller space of the Lynne D. Hohlbein Education Room than it did in the Study.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reception for New Director Larry Paarlberg

The Staff and Trustees of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum welcomed new Museum Director Larry Paarlberg with a reception in his honor on Thursday, October 22, 2009. Members of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society gathered at the Carriage House Interpretive Center to meet Paarlberg, mingle, and of course enjoy fabulous hors d'oeuvres on a misty autumn evening.

"I've never felt more warmly welcomed," said Paarlberg of the evening's festivities. "I'm so impressed that so many people turned out in less-than-stellar weather. And the trustees should rent themselves out to New York caterers, the food was so good."

Paarberg started at the Museum on October 1 and has already had experience with visitors from the community, school tours, and grant presentations in his short tenure. Among his current duties is overseeing the Study Restoration Project, beginning this fall.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Help for Crumbling Buildings

Monday we hosted an Historic Structures Workshop, organized by both the Indiana Historical Society's Local History Services and Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. Geared for professionals and volunteers in history organizations located in historic buildings, staff and board members from as far away as Cincinnati convened to troubleshoot the various problems they face with their historic structures. Architect Judith Kleine, also a veteran faculty from the Lew Wallace Youth Academy, provided images and criteria to assess historic buildings for construction issues. John Reid, owner of Pioneer Restoration in Lafayette, spouted a wealth of information related to care and restoration of masonry, wood, and windows in older buildings. He has done a great deal of work throughout the region on courthouses, historic homes, and museums, and answered even the toughest questions with expertise. At different points, we took the group around the Study to show some of the masonry issues we're facing now with the Study Restoration Project, and then later to Lane Place to discuss wood and paint issues. We were very pleased to host the group and provide a venue for discussion and professional development. Many thanks to Stacy Klingler of Local History Services and Tommy Kleckner wtih Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana for letting us be a part of this event!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Slow Move Begins

The money is in and the process has started to find a contractor to replace the dome on Lew Wallace's 111 year old study. This means that we also have to start packing up all of the General's artifacts in the study to be put in storage while the dome is being repaired. Several volunteers worked hard to make an inventory of the more than 600 books on display and the musuem staff has been formulating a plan for how to pack everything and where everything should go.

Grounds keeper Deb King and collections manager Amanda McGuire started moving artifacts today in order to clean out the inglenook so the architect and potential contractors can get up to the dome to decide what needs to be done to repair it. The access to the dome is in the ceiling of the inglenook area and we don't want to take any chances of damaging artifacts by leaving them out while people are climbing up and down a ladder. Some items are still on display in the study but have moved to new locations. Other artifacts were brought over to the Carriage House for long term storage in the vault and some items were moved to Lew's cabinets for oversized books for temporary storage.

Part of the process of packing the artifacts is ensuring that each item has a unique three-part number to tie it to information in our collection database about what it is, where it is located and who donated it. Most of the artifacts have a number assigned to them but the number was never written on the artifact. A special process is used so that the number can be removed without causing any damage to the item.

Staff and volunteers will continue the process of packing up books and artifacts through the end of the year until construction begins. Some artifacts will be packed away and stored for a few years to allow them to "rest" so we can keep them for many years to come. These items will be brought out for special exhibits in the carriage house but will not be on permanent display in the study anymore, so be sure to make a trip out to see the General's "pleasure house for the soul" before the restoration work begins!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last Piece of the Puzzle

The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum received a $51,000 grant from the Montgomery County Community Foundation for the Study Restoration Project! The Community Foundation has been a strong contributer to the Museum, and we are thrilled that they have continued to support us. Our request was especially dire this year with the Study roof needing replacement very soon. This grant is the last piece in the funding puzzle for the Study Restoration project, and now the wheels are really turning. We have started meeting with architects and lawyers, talking about bids and project scope, and fitting the work items into the funds we have. Work will begin in the next few months, so keep a lookout for progress updates!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

National Medal for Museum and Library Service Awarded to Indiana Museum, Second Year in a Row!

This was taken from a release from the Association of Indiana Museums (AIM). Please visit their website at indianamuseums.org for more information.

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service, awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, recognizes five museum and five libraries each year, for programs and services provided to the nation and to the communities they serve. An Indiana museum has received a medal for two of the three years that IMLS has made the awards.

In 2008, AIM was proud to announce the news of the award received by the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum (Crawfordsville). This year, the Indianapolis Museum of Art receives the honor.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA), formerly known as the Art Association of Indianapolis, was founded more than 125 years ago on the principal that art should be cultivated, studied, and available to all. Today, the IMA upholds these original tenets through programs like Viewfinders, an art viewing program that invites children to visit the museum with their teachers, think creatively, and share their ideas about the art with one another; and the Museum Apprentice Program, an initiative for high school students that supports mentorships with prominent artists on projects that develop leadership skills and expose them to the arts fields. Happily, visitors can appreciate the most comprehensive visual arts institution in Indiana for free, a recent and impactful change. Click here for complete IMLS release.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Artists in Residence 2009

Artists in Residence 2009, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

Artists in Residence 2009

Artists in Residence 2009, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

Artists in Residence 2009

Artists in Residence 2009, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

Artists in Residence 2009

Artists in Residence 2009, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

Mother Nature provided us with yet another beautiful autumn day for our sixth annual Artists in Residence Program on Sunday, October 4. Five artists and six art educators gathered on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum to demonstrate their artistic talents for Museum visitors. Over 200 people visited the Museum to see these talented individuals and to try their hands at making art themselves.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Seed collecting

Fall has arrived and the winterization of the gardens have begun. Peonies have been cut back and soon to be moved to a new location, leaves are being mulched and the squirrels are busy gathering and burying nuts.

One of the fall tasks is the collection of seeds from annuals. Celosia, nigella and black-eyed susan seeds are collected and sowed in the late spring the following year. This year the celosia (Flamingo Feather) has been a highlight of the Study front garden. Visitors ask questions when seeing these plants and are invited to touch the soft, feathery bloom. The spike-like blooms holds hundreds of seeds.

In collecting the seeds I cut the stem of the plant and place the flower spikes in a paper bag. I will let the blooms dry for a period of time and then shake the seeds from the spike. The seeds are stored in glass jars in a dry, dark area over the winter. In late May, I rake up a small spot in a sunny location and sow the seeds, water them well and wait to enjoy a great summer accent.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dale Petrie Wins Wabash College Alumni Award

Dale Petrie, longtime leader with the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society and the chair of the Taste of Montgomery County Committee since its inception, has received the Fredrick J. Urbaska Civic Service Award from the National Association of Wabash Men for his contributions to Crawfordsville and Montgomery County.

Dale is also president of the Crawfordsville School Board and the board at First Christian Church. He has been actively involved in the Character Counts program, and has chaired the Strawberry Festival Committee three times.

At the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, Dale has assisted the staff and board in everything from shaping our strategic planning, fundraising and long-range goals to ensuring the performers and vendors at the Taste of Montgomery County have enough power to shine into the late-summer night. We are a far better organization for having his input and direction.

Congratulations, Dale, on this well-deserved honor, and thank you for everything you do in making our museum the best it can be!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

6th Annual Artists In Residence Program Brings Art to All Ages

The sixth annual Artists-in-Residence program will take place on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum on Sunday, October 4, 2009 from 1:00-4:30pm. The event coincides with the last day of the Downtown Art Show as a community-wide celebration of art. Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with four local artists and watch as they complete works in progress. Featured this year are the artistic talents of Don Black, a wood carver from Crawfordsville; Karen Patton, a plein air painter and co-president of the Art League of Montgomery County, who will work on a painting of the Study; Peggy Boyd of Crawfordsville’s “A Tisket, A Tasket” basket shop, who will be weaving a garden gathering basket; and Michael Phelps, a self-taught watercolorist.

This year, the Museum will have six art education stations where children and families can create their own original works of art to take home. Terry Lawrence, a veteran of the Artist-in-Residence program, will encourage visitors to look at some of the architectural features of the building and then use their imaginations to create their own original buildings; Mary Dawald will assist young artists in making their own tin-punch ornament; Jaroslaw Petruniw will instruct visitors how to create their own comic strip; and June Gourley will guide students in a string art activity. For the first time, the program will feature youth artists, including Riley Edie, a student from Pleasant Hill Elementary, teaching basic origami techniques; and the Crawfordsville High School National Art Honor Society aiding budding artists in creating sand paintings.

The Museum will also have two local luthiers, or violin makers, participate in the program this year. Archie Krout and Alan Frodge will be on hand to demonstrate the art of violin-making, an activity that General Wallace taught himself later in his life, and they will play finished pieces.

Visitors can also go on free guided tours of the Study to see examples of Wallace’s sculpting, drawing, painting, the violin that he played as well as a violin that he was making. With preparations underway for the Study Restoration Project, which will replace the leaking dome, this will be visitors’ last opportunity to tour the building before the artifacts are packed for temporary storage. Come visit the Study October 4 to see local artists at work and create your own masterpieces.

The Artists-In-Residence Program is made possible, in part, with support from the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, the Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. For information on this or other exciting programs at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, visit our website at http://www.ben-hur.com/ or phone 765-362-5769.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In the Autumn Air

Have you been outside? It is gorgeous. Fall is my favorite time of year, and the Museum grounds make a perfect place to watch the seasons change. The trees change their leaves in different shades, and I'm hoping for a particularly colorful spectacle given the wet year we've had.

I have also never seen such fat squirrels and groundhogs hoarding stores of food! It's a great place to spend a quiet afternoon, or to bring the kids and dogs. We've had bunches of students since school started coming to gather leaves for school projects. A bit of the great outdoors right near downtown!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Looking Forward to Larry's Arrival

Larry Paarlberg, former executive director of Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee, Florida, has been named Director of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum. He will begin at the Museum on October 1.

Paarlberg, an Indiana native and 1980 Purdue alum, has worked in historic preservation in the Tallahassee area since 1982. In his seventeen years at Goodwood, an antebellum estate in Tallahassee, Paarlberg oversaw the restoration of the 19th century mansion and seven cottages on the grounds as well as the renewal of the mansion’s gardens. In his career, Paarlberg has directly raised over $2.8 million in competitive grants from private and public sources as well as $1 million in private funds.

The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, a 2008 winner of the National Medal for Museum Service, conducted a nationwide search to find a director after the departure of Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, who had been with the Museum since 2003. Paarlberg will join a staff of one additional full-time and two part-time employees and a cadre of volunteers responsible for daily operations.

"The Board has engaged in a nation-wide search for a new director, working over several months,” said Suanne Milligan, President of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society Board of Trustees. “Now we are thrilled to be able to bring someone of Larry's expertise, experience and enthusiasm to the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum."

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yea for the Taste!

The Taste was a success! We had over 2,100 people on the grounds enjoying the food, music, and fun, and we raised thousands of dollars toward the restoration of the Study building.

Thanks to all our sponsors, volunteers, and vendors who made the event such a huge success!

Congratulations again to our award winners:

Judges' Choice for Best Taste: Joey's Main St. Cafe

Judges' Choice for Best Showmanship: Moon Dance Cafe

People's Choice for Best Taste: Two Guys Cooking

People's Choice for Best Showmanship: Bon Appetit

Pete Miller Vendors' Choice: Miller's Quality Meats and Catering

We're looking forward to next year (well, after a month or two off...), so mark your calendars for August 28, 2010.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Technology, Web 2.0 and Historic Sites: Strategies for Engagement

Last week, Visitor Services & Marketing Coordinator Kara Edie presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for State and Local History on how historic sites of all sizes are utilizing new technology to spread their mission to larger audiences. The presentation, "Technology, Web 2.0 and Historic Sites: Strategies for Engagement", was chaired by Craig Tuminaro, Director of Museum Interpretation for Drayton Hall in Charleston S.C., and also featured Erin Mast, Curator and Site Administrator for President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington D.C.

All three presenters shared their experiences with new initiatives such as weblogs, social networking and interactive media, which led to an immensely informative discussion with audience members about what new technologies are working (and what aren't) in their own respective sites. Click here to listen to a podcast of this session, and find notes from the discussion here.

Many thanks to Craig Tuminaro and the folks at AASLH for giving us the chance to participate!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Taste TV: Visit the Taste: Save the Study

Acting Museum Director Amanda Wesselmann explores the interior of the General Lew Wallace Study, built in 1895, and illustrates the water damage due to the Study's leaky roof. Revenues from the Taste of Montgomery County, on Saturday, August 29, 2009, go directly to replacing the Study's copper roof.

To view this video in its entirety (2:14), visit the original YouTube video here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Taste TV: Best of Taste Awards

Acting Museum Director Amanda Wesselmann features the Best of Taste Awards, which visitors can vote on during the Taste of Montgomery County, on Saturday, August 29, 2009.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Visit The Taste, Save The Study

The upcoming Taste of Montgomery County is one of the area’s most popular annual festivals, but its significance to the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum is far more than just great food and entertainment.

The Taste is the Museum’s biggest fundraiser, enabling the Museum to provide quality themed programming, exhibits, and events throughout each year, but this year’s fundraising need is especially dire. The Museum is raising funds to replace the original copper roof on General Lew Wallace’s study, the building he called “the pleasure house of my soul.”

“The Study Restoration Project is our top priority this year,” said Amanda Wesselmann, Acting Director of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum. “We want to maintain excellence in visitor experience and protect the historic artifacts that we have, but it’s impossible to do that with the increasing damage to our main structure.”

The Study building has suffered rapid deterioration in recent years due to water penetration in the building’s copper roof. Water has permeated the plaster in a large section of the Study’s ceiling and, if left untreated, could cause irreparable damage to General Wallace’s personal artifacts stored inside.

“The artifacts we have on display are entirely original; they are all things General Wallace used himself, from the furniture to the art and the books,” said Wesselmann. “Because these things are so precious, we take great care to monitor the humidity and moisture levels inside the Study to make sure the artifacts last as long as possible.”

When any measurable rain falls at the Study, the roof leaks in over ten places. Although most of the leaks do not fall on the artifacts themselves, the humidity levels inside the building vary wildly, contributing to artifact destabilization and possible mold growth. Water damage has also affected the foundation of the building, with years of seasonal expansion and contraction causing foundation cracks and separation of the stucco. Ultimately, restoring the building’s foundation, interior ceiling damage and exterior roof works, including the Tiffany stained glass ordered by General Wallace, will cost at least $165,000. Additional costs include expert packing, moving and storing of the General’s personal items while the roof replacement is underway.

Museum staff members have been hard at work for two years raising funds and securing grants for the project, but replacing an all-copper roof in the current economy requires a variety of strategies. “This is probably the most fun way we can raise money,” said Wesselmann. “It gets the whole community involved, enjoying excellent food and great music from around the area, and it helps our Museum immeasurably.”

The third-annual Taste of Montgomery County will be held on Saturday, August 29, 2009 from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville. Featured live musical acts include The Woodstove Flapjacks, The Big Swing Band and the Gordon Bonham Blues Band. Advance tickets for the Taste are on sale now at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, Montgomery County Visitors Bureau, Kwik Kopy Printing, Milligan’s Flowers & Gifts and Moon Dance Café.

For more information on this year’s Taste and the Museum’s Study Restoration Project, contact the Museum at 765-362-5769 or visit our websites at www.ben-hur.com or www.tasteofmontgomerycounty.com.
YOU CAN HELP: Can't make it to the Taste? Visit the Museum's Facebook Causes page, "Sustain the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum", to see photos and videos of damage to the Study's interior and donate to this worthy cause.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Advance tickets for the third-annual Taste of Montgomery County are on sale now at select Crawfordsville locations. Visitors can purchase Taste tickets at the Carriage House Interpretive Center of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, home of the Taste; the Montgomery County Visitors and Convention Bureau at the corner of Pike and Green streets; Kwik Kopy Printing at 123 East Main Street, Milligan’s Flowers & Gifts at 115 East Main and Moon Dance Café at the corner of Washington and Main. Advance tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for students.

The benefits of purchasing advance tickets are twofold. Advance tickets are $1 cheaper—adult tickets at the gate on the day of the Taste will be $5 and student tickets will be $3. Advance ticket holders will also be able to get into the gate faster on the day of the Taste, as they won’t have to wait in line to purchase tickets. This could be a real advantage when crowds gather for the nationally-recognized musical acts scheduled to play at this year’s Taste. The Woodstove Flapjacks, an acoustic bluegrass band from Lafayette, will play at 1:00 p.m., and The Big Swing Band from Lafayette rocks the house at 4:30 p.m. At 8:00 p.m., the Gordon Bonham Blues Band, a mainstay of the star-studded Indianapolis Jazz Festival, takes the Taste stage for a rousing finale.

The Taste of Montgomery County will be held at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum on Saturday, August 29, from 12:00 to 10:00 p.m. The restaurants and caterers showcasing their foods at this year’s Taste include Buffalo Wild Wings, Two Guys Cooking, Bon Appétit, Rumor's Bar & Grill, Tacos el Jarocho, A Country A-Fair, Arthur's Café, The Iron Gate, The Big Dipper, Applebee's, Moon Dance Café, Joey's Main Street Café & Catering, The Juniper Spoon, Norvell's BBQ & Catering, China Inn, Miller's Quality Meats & Catering, Elaine's Catering & Tea Shop, Good To Go Xpresso, and the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where it all happened

What is the appeal of watching someone else talk about a place that looks nothing like it used to?

Recently, my husband spent days watching every commentary and special feature on a special edition documentary about a popular series of horror movies. The parts that I saw consisted of some of the cast and crew of the different films in the series go to the locations where the movies where made and point out which scenes were made where. Some of the places hadn't changed in almost 30 years; others, however, were constantly described with, "It doesn't look like it now, but there used to be..." During several of these types of "tours," I kept glancing at my husband, and was a bit confused that he was riveted to the screen as the actor described what used to be there.

Then it struck me: this was authenticity, packaged up for home viewing. This was a figure of authority (the cast and crew of the films) relating the physical location to scenes the audience knew, and telling behind-the-scenes stories of what happened there. This was, in essence, a visit to a museum on DVD! The cast and crew were doing their best to convey realness and a sense of place, things that drew in fans of this series. And if it's this intriguing at home, how captivating is it when you can actually visit the place and see the real artifacts!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

At War!

Summer has arrived and war has been declared! Battles are being fought... and lost. Unfortunately, the war is likely to last for months.

Japanes beetles, Popillia japonica, have invaded. They first appeared the last week of June and their numbers are increasing. The iridescent copper-colored beetles with green heads are eating their way through the gardens. The rugosa roses and morning glories are being totally demolished. Canna, with their thick leaves are another favorite meal for the beetles. The skeletonized foliage of these plants are a sorry sight to see for our visitors. The beetles make their appearance for 6-8 weeks and have no natural enemies. I chose not to spray with insecticide and usually brush the beetles off onto the ground. Thankfully I know in a few weeks they will disapear.

Another losing battle being fought is with poison ivy. Poison ivy, Toxicondendron radicans, has shown up in every garden this summer. In the previous years, the poison ivy has been under control. In the late spring, seedlings started to appear. Soon, the seedlings were sprouting up in the lawn, gardens, and vining up trees. Poison ivy will grow in almost any conditions, sun or shade, moist or dry, between rocks and on trees. I can only surmised that birds have distributed the seeds all over the grounds.

With over 70% of the population having sensitivity to poison ivy, I have pulled and sprayed whenever and wherever I have seen the plant. All parts of the plant are allegens and even in the winter, contact with dormant roots can cause a reaction. As the old farmer's tale says, "leaves of three, let it be!"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Civil War Encampment: Boom!

Civil War Encampment: Boom!, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

Unfortunately, torrential rain during our Civil War Encampments is something we're getting used to. This one was quite a doozy, though!

Preserving the Legacy: Cleaning the Collections

In 2006, USA Life One Insurance (previously Ben-Hur Life)donated a ritual trunk to the museum. The trunk contained over 100 items related to the Supreme Tribe of Ben-Hur fraternal organization, including hats, capes, leggings, pennants, sashes, pins, jackets and robes. When museum staff went to retrieve these items from the basement of the Ben-Hur building in downtown Crawfordsville, they discovered that the contents of the trunk were damp and moldy. At that time, the best thing the museum could do was to dry out the damp pieces and seal them in plastic bags and boxes so the mold would not damage other artifacts in the museum's collection. Through various grants, we were able to purchase a HEPA vacuum and the necessary storage boxes and materials to properly store this part of the collection.

Acting associate director Amanda McGuire and grounds manager Deb King suited up this week to start the process of cleaning the mold, mildew and dirt off of the donated Tribe of Ben-Hur collection. This required them to wear nitrile gloves, face masks and long sleeves to protect them from the mold. The powerful HEPA vacuum works great in removing the dirt and mold from the items, but the process is long and time-consuming. Care has to be taken to prevent damaging the costumes with the powerful suction of the vacuum and every inch of each piece has to be cleaned.

So far, 4 boxes and 1 plastic bag have been cleaned and moved over to archival boxes. There are still 5 more boxes and 2 more bags to sort through. The next step is to catalog each item so we know what we have, give them a number so they can be easily identified and pack them away in archival boxes with acid-free tissue as padding. Stay tuned for before and after pictures!