… is an article about the student exhibits now up in the history hall of the Museum of the Rockies. These exhibits, as I have mentioned before, were done as part of the museum practices course at MSU for the museum studies minor. I have put up pictures on Flickr having to do with the class, and these having to do with my display specifically. Here’s a link to the online article, but as it won’t remain there forever, here it is:
First MSU student exhibits at Museum of Rockies
By GAIL SCHONTZLER Chronicle Staff Writer
Michael Barton bought a $3 hardback book [note: Darwin’s The Descent of Man, A.L. Burt, 1890] at the Bozeman Public Library’s used book sale [note: in 2005] and became curious about the handwritten name inside – WD Rankin.
Barton’s curiosity led him to dig up some nuggets of Montana history.
Today his discoveries are on display for all to see at the Museum of the Rockies. Barton’s is one of 14 exhibits created by Montana State University students, the first student-created exhibits to be mounted in the museum’s history wing.
“You learn by doing,” said Dave Swingle, adjunct instructor of the introduction to museum practices class that produced the exhibits. In the past, the class was all theory, requiring students to write term papers. For the fall semester class, however, Swingle won the museum’s permission to mount actual exhibits.
The class has inspired several students to aspire to be museum curators, which could be a good career option for history majors.
“More people go to museums than all the sporting events combined in this country,” Swingle said.
“It was real neat — creating things, not just writing papers,” said Leighton Quarles, 26, an MSU history grad.
Quarles’ exhibit centers on the twisted wreck of a machine gun from a kamikaze plane – a World War II trophy that sat for years in a Helena veteran’s garage. He documented the deadly 1945 attack on the USS Haggard that nearly sank the destroyer, and found several black-and-white photos to tell the story.
Other student exhibits have everything from photos of GIs who liberated Nazi death camps, to a Beach Boys vinyl album from a century of musical recording equipment, to century-old Winchester rifles.
Barton found inside Rankin’s book several artifacts from the life of Wellington Rankin, a prominent Helena lawyer who ran for the U.S. Senate six times and failed, largely because of his more famous sister. Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress and a pacifist who voted against U.S. entry into World War I and II.
Inside the book he found Wellington’s 1942 campaign card – “Win the War, Crush the Axis Military Powers Forever” – and a “Peace on Earth” Christmas card from Jeannette.
Julia Sable, 30, a master’s degree student in science and natural history filmmaking, created a video of the museum’s Tinsley farmhouse summer festival. She showed volunteers cooking with 1890s foods and technology, and visitors making apple cider.
“I feel I did well on my goals of making people feel like they’re there,” Sable said. “And I wanted it to be equally entertaining for kids and adults.”
Also entertaining is a large exhibit on Winchester rifles that shows how firearms evolved from single-shot muzzle-loaders to lever-action repeating rifles
Hollywood loved the Winchester because the small rifle made stars like John Wayne look bigger, Swingle said.
One student exhibit on the history of MSU dormitory life is in a unique location n at the MSU residence life office, inside a non-working grandfather clock. Whitney Chamberlin, 19, said it shows 1910 girls hanging out in their dorm room and guys having a tug of war.
“Some things really haven’t changed,” Chamberlin said
Gail Schontzler is at email@example.com.