This month, the program committee opens a new chapter for its crowd favorite, Night at the Museum. Slated to take place Friday, August 11, from 6 pm to 8pm, the evening will once again sprawl from the point through Memorial Park, with over 25 unique stations for visitors to explore. This year, the focus shifts from individual historical figures to skills and occupations which many county residents would have performed during the 19th and 20th centuries as part of everyday life.
The goal of this year’s Night at the Museum is to connect residents with the county’s past and to showcase the various lost arts of everyday life. Although many of these skills are not necessary or widely practiced today, they were vital for survival in the past. Prior to railways and reliable roads, it was difficult and expensive for goods to make their way this far west. Because Indiana was at one time the western frontier, settlers had to be resilient and creative to produce many of the goods they consumed: scouring the land for natural resources and properly utilizing their environment. The entire family unit was often a part of this process, with each individual contributing to the group’s success. Families would also work together within a community, each spending the time and resources to produce various implements, then trading amongst themselves. This led to locally sourced, self-sustaining communities.
For example, the family who specialized in basket weaving could meet their own needs and also provide the community with quality goods. Other tasks, such as quilting, weaving, flax scutching, or laundry, often served as a social foundation for the community and a location for the vital exchange of information. In a time when a good harvest yielded far more than a single family needed, butter, milk, and produce could be traded for candles, tools, or clothing depending on what the neighbors down the road specialized in. Visitors can explore each of these skills and their relationship to each other on August 11.
Train travel and a shift to the mass production of goods led to many of these skills becoming a waste of time and an impractical pursuit for the modern individual. Why spend months producing a dress when it could be purchased in town for a fraction of the cost? As times changed and store-bought goods became the norm, formerly necessary skills transitioned into hobbies for many residents or fell prey to mass production and commercialization. Such skills were traditionally passed down from one generation to the next; however, with that chain now being broken in many cases, these arts are slowly becoming lost to time.
Remnants of the past can survive in many ways—through writings, artifacts, and even through skills passed down to the next generation. Grab a friend or a family member and explore more than 25 unique historical skills on display stretching across the entire historical society complex. Perhaps visitors will be motivated to take up one of these skills as a hobby at the end of their visit, or at least develop a greater appreciation for the amount of time a modern washing machine saves on laundry day. Join the Society on August 11 from 6 pm to 8 pm for another memorable Night at the Museum.
Presenters for Night at the Museum 2023 - Numbers correspond with the map above.
Butter Churning - Eleanor Winsheiner
Apple Butter - Michelle Lohr/Ruth McCullough
Quilting - Mimi Greene
Quilling - Lenore Dreisbach
Games/Toys - Rebecca Becker
Cabin Building - Don Becker
Dance and Sing - Hazel Johnston/Louise Peterman
Candles - Ruth Barkey
Milk Delivery - Todd Getty
Herbs - Cindy Rogers
Dried Flower Arranging - Julia Sylvis
Spinning - Katie Gaudreau
Ancestry - Sonya Stewart
Railroad/Trains - Tom Crumm
Kitchen Utensils - Harold Miller
Hats/Millinery - Susan Miller
Farm Tools - Armor Cribbs, Jr.
Calligraphy - Terrie Grove
Laundry - Joanne Getty
Soap Making - Nancy McAfoose
Bee Keeping - Gary/Linda Stephens
Basket Weaving - Jan LaMorte
1930 Model A Ford Pickup - Carl Clevenger
Caning Furniture - Mary Yanity
Women's Clothing - Marna Conrad
Indiana County Doll Association - John/Peggy Thomas
Wood Turning - Dave Fairman/Chris Weiland
Wood Carving - Matthew Bartus
Home Chores - Marge Patz
Baking/Cooking - Sue Stitt