Group Effort: Creating an Exhibit

This summer, several of my fellow curatorial interns and I (including fellow CSU grad student and PLHC intern Dustin Clark) created an exhibit about Native Americans in Yellowstone. The exhibit currently stands in the upstairs lobby at the Heritage Research Center.

We came upon the topic in part due to our desire to explore traditionally underrepresented stories in Yellowstone. While we all had an interest in Native Americans in the park, we also had to face to reality of space constraints. We only had a single tall case available for the exhibit, so we had to be selective about which stories we wanted to feature. Twenty-six Native American tribes are currently associated with Yellowstone, so there was no way we could’ve discussed all associated tribes in significant detail. So after further discussion, we decided to feature the Shoshoni Tukudika, a nomadic tribe that based most of their movement within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and the Nez Perce who fled across Yellowstone to escape capture from United State Troops.

Even though there were three people working on a single case, creating an exhibit proved to be a time consuming process. We each researched the tribes’ history as well as historical objects that the museum collections hold. We at first had too many possibilities. For instance I found about five possible photographs to use, but after comparing the photographs I found with those that my fellow interns found, I ended up using only one photograph from my original selection. We also had a fair mix of both original objects as well as reproductions. We had to scan and reproduce all photographs due to light damage. We also all worked to build a model wickiup, the shelters that Tukudika would use (which was Dustin’s idea).

The exhibit creating process demanded that we work well as a team. Ultimately, I found it very useful to have people to discuss my ideas with. If I faced a creative block about what to select, Dustin or Erin would find a perfect solution. Conversation proved essential when we had to install the exhibit. Overall creating the small exhibit was a wonderful experience to share with my fellow interns, as well as a rewarding personal experience. It has left me wanting to create more moving into the future!

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Yellowstone Heritage Research Center Curatorial Interns and their final exhibit product (from left to right) Hannah Ashley (CSU history graduate student and PLHC intern), Erin Atwood (Montana State Undergraduate Intern) and Dustin Clark (CSU history grad student and PLHC intern)
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