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!

Civil War Encampment 7/11-12/09

Civil War Encampment 7/11-12/09

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Company, Halt!

The Lew Wallace Youth Academy wrapped up today with an audience with General Lew Wallace (seated) in his officer's tent. General Wallace and his troops will receive visitors until 9:00 p.m. tonight, and again from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

The Academy "recruits" get the feel for their woodfield rifles before the captain drills them.

Tanner, Felipe, and Jordan help the surgeon with an "amputation."

The patient, Sam, said the hardest part of "losing" his leg was that he could hear the sawing but couldn't see what they were cutting!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pleasure-houses for Their Souls

Angelica creates a 3-D model of her own personal study, complete with observatory, library, and spa.

The blueprint for Javan's study includes a rocket, swimming pool, big-screen TV room with Xbox, and an elevator.

Solving Problems - History Detectives

Jordan and Tanner examine historic photos of the General Lew Wallace Study grounds with Beth Swift, Wabash College archivist, in an effort to locate the reflecting pool that Wallace filled in around 1900.

Dear Mr. Mayor...

Sam and Chaz work on their letters to the Mayor of Crawfordsville. Later,
Dr. Helen Hudson helped them transform that letter into a two-minute speech. Our intern, Kevin Stevens (Wabash Collge, class of 2011), played the part of the mayor as the spokesperson from each small group presented their cases. The mayor will receive their letters - on Lew Wallace Youth Academy letterhead - next week!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lew Wallace Youth Academy Day Two: Creating and Appreciating Art

academy7809 008, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

A Lew Wallace Youth Academy student begins his plein-air painting on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum while Museum Intern Kevin Stevens looks on.

Lew Wallace Youth Academy Day Two: Creating and Appreciating Art

academy7809 003, originally uploaded by WallaceStudy.

A new crop of budding artists tried their hand at plein-air painting today on the grounds of the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, as part of the nationally-recognized Lew Wallace Youth Academy. The Academy, which focuses on a different discipline each day, will run through July 11, 2009.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lew Wallace Youth Academy is Underway

The first day of the Lew Wallace Youth Academy, Exploring Other Cultures, was a success! The middle-school students jumped into the cultures of Uganda with singing, dancing, and drumming in a traditional African style. Dr. James Makubuya from Wabash College and Sr. Stella Sabina led the activities with enthusiasm, encouraging students and adults alike to try sounding out words in Swahili and coordinating arms and legs in a dance. The kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly:

"I loved dancing, singing, and drumming with my friends."

"It was really cool and I love learning new languages and new dances."

"My experience with other cultures was awesome. I loved the dance and the drumming together. It was great."

At an age that most people consider awkward, the Academy students jumped in and tried something completely new with enthusiasm and vigor, making new friends along the way.