The Road to the Traveling Exhibit

3 Nov

Guest blogger Julie Maresco is a Public History graduate student and a graduate assistant for the Albert Gore Research Center. She discusses the process of creating the traveling exhibit  celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act in the post below. Be sure to check out her blog post that talks more about the exhibit here.  

During the fall 2015 semester, Dr. Brenden Martin’s Public History Seminar class worked on several field projects that partnered with other institutions. One of these projects involved working with the Albert Gore Research Center (AGRC) to help plan a travelling exhibit commemorating the upcoming 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. For the class project, graduate students Julie Maresco and Katherine Hatfield researched and planned the exhibit with AGRC director Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes, university archivist Donna Baker, and PhD graduate Dallas Hanbury.

By the end of the semester, Julie and Kate presented a prezi presentation to Dr. Martin’s class that showed the exhibit’s design concepts, themes, and research. Dr. Martin and the class provided feedback and suggestions for further ideas and direction. The planning worked out well, but it was difficult for all those involved to agree on everything to include in the exhibit and what themes of historic preservation to focus on. It was eventually decided to talk about the impact of the NHPA on the national, state, regional, and local level.


It can be challenging to work on all aspects of a field work project over the course of one semester. This project was of no exception. A lot more work was needed to finish the exhibit so Julie Maresco continued working on it during her AGRC graduate student assistantship in the spring 2016 semester. She continued to do research and contact institutions that would be included in the exhibit for information and networking. During this time, Dr. Kyriakoudes wrote a grant and was awarded funding from Humanities Tennessee. MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation (CHP) was also able to contribute funds toward the exhibit’s production.

In order to finish the exhibit in time for the 50th anniversary of the act (October 15, 2016), Julie Maresco was hired to work part-time over the summer to finalize the panel layouts, text, images, and graphics. She worked with CHP’s assistant director Dr. Antoinette van Zelm who edited the text, supplied images, and added content for the exhibit.

This semester, the panels were finally submitted to Creative Services on campus for design and printing. Dr. Kyriakoudes and Julie Maresco delivered the foam core panels to the first location of the travelling exhibit’s tour at the President Andrew Johnson Museum & Library at Tusculum, College in Greeneville, Tennessee. Tusculum staff and students assisted in the installation of the exhibit in their gallery space.


From left to right: Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes, Mamie Hassell, Dollie Boyd, Julie Maresco, and Alex Rolison

This project has been a learning process and some of the most important lessons to take away from it include how to work effectively as a team, following time management for planning exhibits, the importance of meeting exact deadlines for Creative Services and outside organizations, and seeking additional input for editing and reviewing text and design. Each stage of this process was a learning experience for everyone involved and the end result was truly successful and all the hard work paid off.

Projects like this exhibit show how collaboration between students, the history department, the Albert Gore Research Center, and outside institutions can be productive and meaningful. It is essential to build partnerships with other organizations and develop good relationships with outside professionals. The exhibit will travel again in December to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center near Memphis, TN, then to various local middle Tennessee institutions and other sites throughout the state. Please contact Julie Maresco or Dr. Kyriakoudes for more information or any questions related to this project.


The creation of this exhibit was made possible by:


chpnewlogo2014       imgres





-Julie Maresco


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