JAN. 23, 2009 -- Preparations for the first
exhibit at the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society's Old School
House Discovery Center began this month, as groups of sixth-graders
from Saugatuck Middle School took turns visiting the Center to
learn about exhibit creation and share thoughts about what has made
their community a summertime vacation destination with nationwide
attraction. The Discovery Center and its first exhibit are targeted
to open in mid-May, exact date yet to be determined.
Given the theme "Summertime Fun", in a project
conceived by Douglas Elementary 6th grade language arts teacher
Wendy Colsen and Historical Society Museum chair Dr. James
Schmiechen, retired Central Michigan University historian, the
students will plan, design, research and produce displays that tell
stories about how, when and why various kinds of summer recreation
have come to characterize our area.
The Discovery Center exhibit will expand upon and
add a different perspective to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical
Museum's major exhibit for 2009, "100 Years of Summertime and Fun",
which will focus on art and artifacts documenting the history of
leisure and summer life here.
"Working on a collaborative project with the
Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society is always such an exciting
process for the kids," Colsen says. "They learn so many invaluable
skills that apply to a real world setting, and the public
presentation steps up the expectations for them. My favorite part is
watching them get excited to do research each day and also the look
of pride on their faces when they are showing their work to the
public on opening night."
The assignment has gained extra relevance with
the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently naming
Saugatuck-Douglas one of it's "Dozen Distinctive Destinations for
As the students discussed their exhibit's
possibilities during the kick-off meeting, they also learned about
new resources available to aid their research, including recent
additions to the Historical Society web site,
www.sdhistoricalsociety.org, such as the "Image Blog", showing
historical photos, and the "On-Line Research Center", a growing
compilation of digitized Society archives.
The Historical Society has been refurbishing the
Old School House since early in 2007, aimed at preserving and
converting the building into a community resource where children and
adults alike can explore the area's genealogy, history, culture,
ecology and architecture through recreational activities,
educational programs, special events and access to the Society's
growing archive of local artifacts, photos, records and newspapers.