The ribbon was cut on the “Making Alabama: Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit” at the Evelyn Burrow Museum on the campus of Wallace State on Thursday, April 19, 2018. The exhibit is open through May 24. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)
HANCEVILLE – The “Making Alabama: Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit” officially opened at the Evelyn Burrow Museum at Wallace State Community College Thursday and the building was packed with anxious visitors waiting to take their trip through the exhibit. The exhibit is a statewide celebration of 200 years of statehood presented by the Alabama Humanities Foundation in partnership with the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. The exhibit showcases the decisions and turning points that shaped Alabama history, culture and geography through interactive displays and teaching resources.
Before the ribbon cutting, a few representatives from the different organizations spoke, including Chairman of the Cullman’s Alabama Bicentennial Committee, Drew Green. After some introductions, the event’s guest speaker, Maurice Gandy, was invited up on stage to deliver his lecture, “Famous Lost Words: Recording and Preserving Oral History.” As an English professor and feature correspondent for the Mobile Press-Register, Gandy’s lecture was meant to inspire people to use some basic techniques of interviewing and recording to better remember and pass on personal family histories as well as community histories.
After the exhibit was opened, Green gave a quick breakdown of what the exhibit has to offer on both a statewide and a local level.
“The Cullman County Bicentennial Committee was approached about hosting this exhibition and the way it’s designed there are actually five set-ups and it’s designed to travel to all 67 counties,” Green said. “They chose us in Cullman to be one of the first places to host it because they knew we had done an exhibition in 2015 and it was big success, so they wanted us to have one of the first ‘Making Alabama’ exhibitions so people from other communities would come see us and use us as an example. It goes through 2019 so if you miss it here you can see it somewhere else, but you will never see the local part of it.”
Green went on to talk about some of the work that went into preparing the exhibit as well as some of his favorite features.
“There’s eight different eras that the main exhibit represents and then we’ve tried to pull in local aspects of that. I work at the Cullman County Museum and instead of me doing everything we approached different organizations that we thought were a good fit. The first panel is pre-history up to 1700 so I contacted the Cullman County Archaeological Society and they did a case for me. One of the most interesting ones that I was excited about, a lot of people don’t know about Cullman’s connection to the space industry,” Green said. “Mary Hovater, who is a graduate of Wallace, and her father, Joe Hayden, both have been involved with NASA, and her father early on helped make the gyroscopes that all the rockets used, it was made in Cullman. It’s just kind of been a labor of love, but we’ve had a lot of volunteers in our local committee that helped us, so it was fun.”
Green is relieved and excited that the doors are finally open and now he’s just ready for people to come out and see what they’ve built.
“We’ve been excited since we shut the last case and wanted to get everybody here, so we could show it. We were pretty sure we were going to here some ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’ and we did, so we’re grateful for that,” Green smiled. “It’s going through the 24th (of May) and we encourage people to come and if there are groups that want to come they can call here or the Cullman County Museum and let us know and we’ll make arrangements to guide them through, otherwise it’s open anytime you’d like to come.”
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