December 18, 2009

Land of Many Stories

On November 5, 2009, the Land of Many Stories, a Glacier Centennial exhibit, was unveiled at the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena. One of the elements of the exhibit will be a virtual tour– to increase the accessibility of seeing the exhibit during it’s installation.

I recently had the chance to interview a colleague, David Restivo, who is developing the virtual tour…and here are a few words that he offered to share.

Q: What was the most captivating part of the exhibit?
David: The diversity of tangible artifacts and the time periods that they represented. It goes from the 19-teens to today. It was really neat to contrast the ornate Great Northern Railway china cup to the USGS hidden video of grizzly bears. I really like how the exhibit gives you a relevant digital representation of the history that we are making everyday, today. It helped me connect with an exhibit that really could have been all about Glacier 100 years ago.

Q: What was your favorite part of the exhibit?
David: There are many pieces that are featured in the exhibit that come from private individuals. For instance, Bill Lungren has shared a lunch box that would have been used by horse outfitters in the early days. It was smaller than a shoebox. Visitors would have been given this boxed lunch that included a paper cup a vile of cream- and instructions, reading: (paraphrased) per park regulations the outfitter will prepare this for you and will burn it for you.

Q: What’s your role in this project:
David: I’m tasked with developing a virtual exhibit of the Land of Many Stories to help make the exhibit accessible to more people. Our hope is to have it complete by the end of February.

Deirde Shaw, GNP Park Archivist and Jennifer Bottomly-O’Looney, MHS Archivist, are developing the content for the virtual exhibit. Not every artifact will be highlighted- but it will give people a taste of the exhibit. Video and still photography will be used. One of the objects is an old camera from the 30s- when you scroll over the camera you will see the actual photage that would have been taken from a camera similar to that.

Q: If you could sum up the exhibit in one word, what would it be?
David: Impressive. It is so fascinating to see over 100 years of history- captured in one location. It is an impressive representation of the park because it covers so much history.

There are a few sections that are dedicated to Native American Indian history. I really enjoyed reading about the tribes and seeing some of the artifacts that the park and the Montana Historical Society have, such as: moccasins, baby carriers, tools, and arrowheads. In addition, there are several beautiful pieces of art that complement this section.

Joe Cosley was another piece of history that I had always found fascinating. Joe was a rogue ranger in the Belly River and was known for his trapping abilities. He is also well known for carving his name into aspen trees. It was really cool to see one of the trees that was a part of his collection.

I was most amazed to see how prominent the Great Northern Railway was in the early days of the park. They made the park accessible for a lot of people– it looked like a classy time and experience. In some ways it was sad to see pictures of the view from chalet dining rooms or balconies…I can just imagine standing on those balconies and what it would have been like to be looking over the wide sweeping valleys and glacier lakes.

Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share?
This exhibit is a rare and unique opportunity to see the collection of these objects in person- the fact the we don’t have a museum in the park makes this huge for the park to see it all together. It made me want to see and learn more.

From a child’s perspective- there are other permanent exhibits on display at the Montana Historical Museum that complement the Land of Many Stories really well.

The online exhibit will have audio capabilities, such as oral histories of long time residents and early settlers.

First time visitor should give 2 hours to this unique exhibit.

This exhibit was made possible due to the good partnership between the Montana Historical Society, Glacier National Park Fund, and Glacier National Park. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation is the lead sponsor.

For more photos of the exhibit, visit our Centennial Photo Gallery.

Kass Hardy, Glacier Centennial Coordinator

December 28, 2009

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