Saturday, March 28, 2009

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO READY WALLACE’S STUDY FOR SPRING

Annual Park Day sponsored by Civil War Preservation Trust, History Channel, US Dept. of Interior

CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, March 28, 2009—The Civil War began as a struggle between armies of untrained but enthusiastic volunteers. Seven generations later, another army of volunteers is about to descend on America’s Civil War battlefields – only this horde of dedicated men and women will be armed with paint brushes, trash bags and weed whackers.

On Saturday, April 4, 2009, history buffs and preservationists of all ages will join forces to clean and restore Civil War-related battlefields, cemeteries and shrines. The nationwide effort – dubbed Park Day – is underwritten with a grant from The History Channel. Park Day is also recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a “Take Pride in America” event. More than 100 historic sites in 24 states are expected to participate in Park Day 2009.

“Civil War sites are often the victims of their own popularity,” noted Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) President James Lighthizer. “Without proper maintenance, battlefields can suffer from the ravages of both time and tourism. Our goal is to spruce up these links to America’s past so they can be enjoyed by all.”

Now in its thirteenth year, Park Day is an annual hands-on preservation event created by CWPT. Volunteers gather at designated Civil War sites to help with routine repairs and maintenance. Activities can range from raking leaves and hauling trash to painting signs and trail building. In exchange for their hard work, participants receive free refreshments and can listen to local historians describe the significance of the site.
The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum is one of the sites that will benefit from Park Day-related activities, and the only Park Day site in the state of Indiana. Volunteers are needed to paint some structures on the grounds, weed and mulch the various flower beds, pick up branches and help to clean the brick wall that surrounds the General’s property. For more information about Park Day at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum, please contact Deb King, Grounds Manager, at 765-362-5769 or email dking@ben-hur.com.

With 60,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its goal is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War sites and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. CWPT’s website is located at www.civilwar.org.

Friday, March 27, 2009

IMLS AWARDS GRANT TO GENERAL LEW WALLACE STUDY FOR ARCHIVE STORAGE

$3000 will be used for storage for Wallace’s uniforms, Civil War saddle

CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, March 27, 2009— Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), General Lew Wallace’s personal artifacts from the Civil War will have a long-lasting resting place.

The IMLS has awarded the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum a $3000 American Heritage Preservation Program grant for the stabilization and storage of many of General Wallace and his wife Susan’s personal effects, including clothing, the General’s Civil War saddle, and a drum first used in the Mexican War.

“We are excited to be one of the first recipients of this beneficial new grant program,” said Museum Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko. “This reminds us how important Wallace’s library and mementos are to American history.”

“With these awards, communities will be able to rescue exceptional objects that link their pasts to their futures,” said IMLS Director Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice. “This grant program is an important part of IMLS’s Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action, a multi-year, multi-pronged initiative to protect our national treasures.”

American Heritage Preservation Program grants are used by small museums, libraries, and archives to help to preserve specific items, including works of art, artifacts and historical documents that are in need of conservation. Applicants will build on completed conservation assessments of their collections, to ensure that the grants are used in accordance with best practices in the field. Nearly 190 million objects in U.S. collections are in immediate danger of deterioration and need restoration or conservation, according to the Heritage Health Index report (http://www.heritagepreservation.org/HHI/full.html).

Some of the items in danger of deteriorating are a Zouave uniform from the 11th Indiana Volunteers, which Wallace led off to war in 1861, the dress worn by Susan Wallace when she was presented at the Court of St. James in London, and six killim and Navajo rugs collected by the Wallaces during their travels throughout the American Southwest. These items were displayed for years in the Study building where they were exposed to extreme fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and ultraviolet radiation.

“Unfortunately, putting an historical object on public display is one of the worst things you can do to it,” said Catlin-Legutko. “Exposure to sunlight, humidity, and temperature highs and lows—all of which have been present in the Study building at one time or another—cause an object to degrade a lot faster than if it was properly archived. We want to make sure General Wallace’s personal mementos are still around for our children’s children to see.”

Many of the original items will be displayed for the final time this year, during the Museum’s Embattled: General Wallace’s Leadership in the Civil War exhibit, opening March 21 and continuing through December 13, 2009. After the exhibit, many of the items will be “retired” into proper archival storage in the Carriage House Interpretive Center, where a state-of-the-art artifact storage vault has been erected.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit: http://www.imls.gov/.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Study Snapshots: 2009 Exhibit Opening



After months of preparation, the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum debuted its 2009 exhibit, Embattled: General Wallace's Leadership in the Civil War to members of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society on Friday, March 20.

Gail Stephens, author and Wallace historian, greeted the crowd and shared her experiences guest curating the new exhibit.

The following day, March 21, was the Public Opening of the Embattled exhibit, featuring two discussions on Wallace in the Civil War with Gail Stephens.
The Embattled exhibit was a rousing success, integrating the story of Wallace's battle experience with his original artifacts, as well as reproduction uniforms and Civil War sundries that children could handle and wear.












































--Kara Edie, Visitor Services & Marketing Coordinator

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring has arrived!


Spring has finally arrived and the Museum is blooming with activities! Following the opening of the 2009 exhibit, people from central Indiana descend upon the Museum for Park Day 2009.

In partnership with the Civil War Preservation Trust, Park Day is a national program where people volunteer at parks, battlefields, monuments, and historical sites to help staff with much needed maintenance. The General Lew Wallace Study and Musuem is the only site in Indiana participating in this event!

The Museum's Park Day includes spring cleanup of the gardens, mulching the gardens, collecting fallen tree branches, cleaning out the Study basement,painting and some planting of spring flowers. The work (fun) starts at 9 and goes until 1. People come throughout the morning and pitch in where help is needed. A mid-morning snack of juice and doughnuts revive the volunteers for the rest of the day. Come join in the fun and help make the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum ready for visitors!
--Deb King, Grounds Manager

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Civil War Exhibit Opening Soon at GLWSM

CRAWFORDSVILLE, IN, March 14, 2009— Lew Wallace found passion and inspiration in battle at a young age.

“When night came, and my mother tucked me in the little trundle-bed with my elder brother, I had gained such store of wisdom pertaining to war that it passed into my dreams, and from them into my life; so I promised myself, saying many times, ‘Wait until I am a man.’”

American history bears witness to Wallace’s glorious victories and shocking setbacks in battle once he did become a man. To honor his militant spirit, the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum will soon debut its new exhibit, Embattled: General Wallace’s Leadership in the Civil War.

The Lynne D. Hohlbein Education Room in the General’s former Carriage House is being prepared with personal artifacts from Wallace’s career in the Civil War. The exhibit will tell the story of Wallace’s lifelong fascination with military struggle, beginning in his youth watching his father elegantly uniformed as the colonel of a county militia.

Taking a cue from its name, the Embattled exhibit will illustrate not only Wallace’s wartime glories, but also the denigration and loss of reputation he suffered as a result of his missteps in crucial battles. Some reports state that Wallace’s actions—most notably during the battle of Shiloh, Tennessee—may have cost lives.

“Wallace’s Civil War career was fraught with low periods as well as great victories,” said Amanda Wesselmann, Associate Director of the Museum. “We wanted to show a balanced view—not only Wallace as hero, but also Wallace as fallible.”

The Embattled exhibit also marks the first themed exhibit at the Museum that is guest curated. Gail Stephens, historian, author and Wallace scholar from Maryland, has done extensive research on General Wallace’s military history, especially his actions during the conflicts in Shiloh and Monocacy, Maryland, and is currently writing a history of Wallace’s Civil War career for the Indiana Historical Society Press. Stephens has written most of the interpretive text for the Embattled exhibit and has designed the exhibit to tell the complete story of Wallace’s military history.

“It’s been a great joy to work on the Embattled exhibit,” said Stephens. “In the course of several years of work on my book about Wallace’s controversial Civil War career, I’ve found a lot of new material about the man and his participation in the country’s greatest and most tragic conflict. I believe this portrait of Major General Lew Wallace adds weight and sophistication to previous accounts – and I believe he would see himself in it.”

As in previous exhibits at the Museum, the Embattled exhibit will feature General Wallace’s personal artifacts on display, as well as replica versions of some common Civil War-era materials that can be worn, handled and examined to give children a greater understanding of that era.

“It’s one thing to read about the Civil War in history books and learn how oppressive and scary the conditions sometimes were,” said Wesselmann. “It’s quite another thing to put on several layers of wool uniform and imagine marching for miles in the summer heat. Our goal is to help our visitors put themselves in the shoes of the men and women of the Civil War era.”

Accompanying this year’s exhibit is a full slate of events and educational programming that revolves around the theme of leadership in the Civil War. The Brown Bag Book Club, returning in June and continuing throughout the summer, will feature selections that explore leadership and success in today’s society (Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers will be featured in July) as well as during the mid-1800s (June’s featured book will be Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz, and August’s selection will be Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin).

The Embattled: General Wallace’s Leadership in the Civil War exhibit will debut with an invitation-only Sneak Preview Party for donors and members of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society, held at the Carriage House Interpretive Center on Friday, March 20 at 6:00 p.m. The opening reception will feature remarks by Suanne Milligan, President of the Society, Guest Curator Gail Stephens and Museum Director Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko.

The Public Opening of the Embattled exhibit will take place on Saturday, March 21. Museum admission will be free that day and refreshments will be served. Guest Curator Gail Stephens will discuss her role in the new exhibit in a special discussion at 11:00 a.m. and again at 2:00 p.m. The Study building will also be open to view the new permanent exhibit, The Ben-Hur Legacy, created by Guest Curator Amanda McGuire.

“We’re very enthusiastic about this new exhibit,” said Wesselmann. “Finally, instead of rumors and hearsay, General Wallace’s Civil War leadership will get the balanced examination it deserves.”

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Building the Legacy

I started an internship here in November to research, write, and fabricate an exhibit about Lew Wallace’s legacy through the various productions of Ben-Hur for the Legacy Gallery in the mechanical room of the Study. While I have worked on small parts of exhibits before, this is the first exhibit I have researched, designed, fabricated and installed from start to finish. It was a learning process with plans that changed almost on a daily basis. I started by reading everything the museum had about Ben-Hur and turning that research into seven short labels about the evolution of the novel. I then chose artifacts and figured out how everything would fit together. It was like doing a puzzle without the picture to use as a guide. I purchased mounts for the smaller artifacts with grant funds. I also made a form that would support the Roman soldier’s costume from the 1959 Ben-Hur film. This exercised my carpentry and sewing skills as well as my experience handling artifacts.

During the week of exhibit installation, the design changed at least once a day in order to fit all of the pieces together, but I think the end result accomplishes what was planned. The legacy of Ben-Hur is told in one space instead of being spread throughout the Study. The artifacts – especially the costume and sandals – are properly supported so they can survive for many more generations of visitors to see. This project also allows the Study to return more to what it looked like when Lew was using it. This was a great experience for me and I loved every step of it. I realized that museum work changes regularly with unforeseen complications, and I worked by myself and with the staff to overcome any difficulties. I definitely learned that Ben-Hur was more than just a movie with a chariot race, and I am hoping visitors will learn about the many ways Ben-Hur impacted the world.

Amanda McGuire, Museum Intern