A traveling museum is making its way around the state, stopping in every county to tell an important story. It’s the story of us – the people of Alabama – from a time when the area was populated only by Native Americans, to the period when Alabama was a new U. S. territory in 1817, to its birth as the 22nd state in December 1819. The focus is how the 200-year-old journey from a territory to today has shaped the state and its people.
Making Alabama: A Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit is the centerpiece of the celebration of the state’s 200th birthday and will be on display for almost the entire month of September in Blount County. The exhibit is made possible through the work of the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History with funding from the Legislature. In Blount County, the exhibition is also sponsored by the Blount County Memorial Museum (BCMM) and the Blount County Historical Society.
Exhibits will tell Alabama’s story by explaining historical places and events, detailing the art and customs of different periods, playing songs and tunes from by-gone eras, and most importantly, recalling the people who have helped shaped the state. It will not be a static experience. Kiosks will accompany many of the presentations, allowing viewers to dive deeper to see and hear more about a particular point of interest. BCMM will also contribute to the experience. Curator Amy Rhudy said there will be exhibits featuring local history like the county’s covered bridges, artwork and pottery, the genealogical history of the county, including some of the founding families, and the histories of Blount County communities.
Rhudy encourages schools to bring students and take advantage of the exhibit. She asks teachers to incorporate it into their lesson plans and she is willing to assist teachers who need documentation of student attendance. A “Pastport Education Guide” for educators to use in the classroom can be downloaded at www.alabama200.org. It is designed as a companion work for the exhibit and can be used for grades K-12. Other classroom tools are available on the website.
The sponsors of Making Alabama plan to travel to all 67 counties in an 18-month period, an endeavor which began in April and will continue through December 2019, the month of the state’s bicentennial birthday.
Alabama Humanities Foundation Executive Director Armand DeKeyser said on the organization’s website, “The whole exhibit is about engagement, enlightenment and what we hope will be a continuing conversation about where we have been as a state, the moments that have shaped us, the people who have influenced us and the places where our history resides. The conversation, of course, doesn’t end there. The ongoing dialogue centers on where we are heading. The name, Making Alabama, is purposely present tense even though it’s a historic exhibit. Just like everything around us, even history, it is a work in progress.”
Making Alabama will be on display in Oneonta Sept. 2 through Sept. 29 (except for Labor Day) at the Frank Green Building, 415 Fifth Ave. E. Rhudy says the viewing hours have not been set, but the exhibit will be open seven days a week. Call the museum at 625-6905 for viewing times. Admission is free.