Exhibit work is rarely a simple task. Over a year ago, I was tasked with creating a permanent exhibit to be featured on the 2nd floor of the library. Since this would be a long standing exhibit, to be on display whenever another exhibit was not in the space, I requested that a small committee be formed to help in it’s design and selection. This would allow greater input than just my own fancies and meant that others in the library would get to contribute to what they would see every day. With that a committee was formed with library staff, faculty, and a member of the the library’s advisory board.
The start of this project began in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, so our initial meetings and discussions took place over Zoom. We decided early on that a photograph exhibit would be the best choice. Out of all the possible themes we discussed, the idea of focusing on Idaho and it’s industry stuck with us. At the time things were a little difficult in accessing the materials, having to keep social distancing and Covid protocols in mind we sifted through our materials. Each member of the committee delved into the Special Collections, some physically and some remotely, looking for photograph collections that could support our idea. We wanted to find some of the most visually striking photographs we could. After that research, based on the images we found, we focused the exhibit on Idaho agriculture, mining, logging, transportation, and recreation. Each of these industries has been important to the development of Idaho and continues to impact it today.
By the time all the photographs were selected, we thought an end was in sight. We just needed to write the interpretive text for the display and have the photographs printed and framed. The pandemic, however, made that timeline drag out longer than anticipated. It was our goal to have all the printing and framing done by a local business. Things were opening up again, and we had found someone who could both print the photographs and frame them. We began working with the framer to select the best framing options for the project, and they were fantastic; very communicative, helpful, and full of great suggestions. It turned out, however, that during the pandemic their normal sources for frames had closed. It seemed every time we made a little progress the pandemic threw something in the way to slow us down. In the end, however, the framer found a new supplier, we were able to select some nice black frames to compliment the photographs, and the final product looked better than imagined.
This week a student worker and myself finished installing the last of the photographs and interpretive panels. And The Gem State: Innovation and Beauty found it’s home on the 2nd floor of the library. It looks great and we are happy with the outcome.
A big thank you to all the committee members who helped get this exhibit done:
- Jessica Martinez
- Alisa Melior
- Perri Moreno
- Kit Stokes
- Gary Strong
And a big thank you to our student worker, Erin Geslani, who worked with me to install the exhibit on the wall and make sure it looked nice.