Saturday, August 24, 2013
How many people exhibited objects?
How many people came but did not bring objects?
Posted by Pop Up Museum Intern Lauren Benetua
What was it about?
This weekend, the Santa Cruz MAH popped up at the Santa Cruz Mountain Arts Center to display objects that were lost and found. It is no secret that Santa Cruz county is full of funky knick-knacks and historical tid-bits. This Pop Up Museum encouraged folks to exhibit what they’ve found and the histories inside lost, forgotten, and found objects.
How did it go?
If you've ever seen a community come together, this Pop Up Museum would have been it. Our theme Lost and Found brought us surprising artifacts of local history, and even more surprising connections. Our first visitor came with a basket of old family albums, books inherited from his father's automotive company and glass bottles collected from his childhood. From afar, these garage-found items may seem a bit dull, but once we opened these treasures, several reactions occurred:
1) Gasps of surprise
2) Smiles and handshakes
3) Neighbors meeting for the first time
4) Visitors grouping together and taking the stage for storytelling
What we experienced was a part of deep human history. The historical items gathered, saved, and shown during our Pop Up Museum made us all more aware of the place which we live and work. This was evident by the road maps without freeways, hiking trail guides with pathways that no longer exist, and old bottles uncovered from the prohibition era. With each piece that was exhibited, we all gathered around and listened to family histories and social and geographic histories of Santa Cruz County. This included one man's mother who was the second woman to be employed as a mechanic in the U.S. Military -our very own Rosie the Riveter - and whose father owned the first tow truck company in the county. Lisa Robinson of the San Lorenzo Valley Museum who digitizes historical archives, was eager to preserve these photos and add them to the museum's digital collection.
Other items on display introduced us to a time when zip codes did not exist yet, and of historic trails filled with trees that are no longer there. As people traded stories, the photographs were reanimated with impersonations of people who have passed on, or with sensational memories of places that have since been re-purposed. One man brought along old postcards - some in black and white, some in early color printing. Exclamations of "Oh I remember this!" or "You know George?" or "This would be illegal now, it's too dangerous," were heard as people flipped through pictures.
By the end of the day, the level of fascination and awe at the dug up memories this Pop Up Museum generated was at an all time high. Beyond that, however, was an underlying sentiment of generational concern. The Lost and Found Pop Up Museum not only exhibited items, but also intangible pieces of local culture. This event reminded us that outside the history lessons we can learn, it is the human aspect of the people around us that keep us connected. We can start learning history by getting closer to those who are now a part of living history, before the knowledge of previous generations pass us by. Near the time of closing up shop, our Pop Up Museum was summarized by a woman who said, "This is fun. Everybody can see the history we've missed."
To see more pictures, check out our Pinterest board here!