Current Museum Exhibit
OUR LIVES, OUR STORIES:
AMERICA’S GREATEST GENERATION
Nov. 11 through Jan. 10
By Mary Alice Hobbs
A generation that came of age during the darkness of the Great Depression and the storms of war in Europe and the Pacific lived through these turbulent years by standing tall and united. The magnitude of the personal challenges and the national commitment is illuminated in the Brigham City Museum’s national traveling exhibit “Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation” which opens Nov. 11 and continues through Jan. 7. Special programming during the exhibit will be announced in the near future. Admission is free.
The museum is located at 24 North 300 West. The entrance is on the west side. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. For further information, please phone (435) 226-1439 or visit www.brighamcitymuseum.org.
The generation’s rendezvous with destiny is explored through photos, artifacts, panels, life-size installations and personal histories. Some of the photos depict a farewell to the Marines at a train station, children waiting to see a movie and a vaudeville act at a Minneapolis theater and a soldier hanging out at a soda fountain after his return from the war.
Artifacts from the 1920s through the 1950s include a wicker baby scale, a paratrooper helmet, a Japanese flag, a serviceman’s New Testament pocket Bible, a Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Medal, a Buck Rogers’ spaceship, a newsboy’s union button, a German mother’s Cross Medal, a countertop radio and a souvenir pamphlet celebrating the start of the United Service Organizations (USO) which provides programs, services and entertainment to U.S. troops and families. Since 1941, the USO has been the G.I.’s “home away from home.”
The tumultuous journey of millions of Americans is presented in the following panels: Draftees Taking Physical Exams; Pearl Harbor Attack Scene; Going to War; Maternity Ward Babies; Young People with Prize-winning Lamb; Factory Interior; U.S. Army Soldiers with Captured Nazi Flag; and a crowd on V-J (Victory over Japan) Day.
Installations in the exhibit that enable visitors to return in thought to a former time are a kitchen devoid of such amenities as a microwave oven, an induction station and a soda fountain, to name a few.
The exhibit also draws on memories and oral histories gathered by the Minnesota Historical Society. The diversity of their recollections is evident in these quotes: “Most of us were seniors; and after hearing about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, right away it struck you – that takes care of ‘what are we going to do after getting out of high school?’” and “When my boyfriend asked me to marry him after the war ended, he offered me a ring or a refrigerator. I took the refrigerator.”
Local artifacts from the museum’s collection as well as local stories from oral histories will supplement the exhibit.
Museum Director Kaia Landon says, “We’re excited to feature ‘Our Lives, Our Stories’ because the aura of the ‘greatest generation’ that helped shape the world we live in today has not dimmed for many people. The generation’s adversity and achievement, despair and triumphs are a testament to its extraordinary character.”
“Our Lives, Our Stories: America’s Greatest Generation” has received funding from the Utah Humanities Council. The Utah Humanities Council provides leadership to empower individuals and groups to improve their communities through active engagement in the humanities.
This exhibition has also been made possible by NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The exhibit was originally developed by the Minnesota Historical Society in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This exhibit was adapted and is toured by Mid-America Arts Alliance through NEH on the Road. NEH on the Road offers an exciting opportunity for communities of all sizes to experience some of the best exhibitions funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Mid-America Arts Alliance was founded in 1972 and is the oldest regional nonprofit arts organization in the United States. For more information, visit www.maaa.org or www.nehontheroad.org.