It's easy to become attached to the special places you work to preserve and advocate. Guardianship is love. I'm so thankful that this historic cabin (The Everly Brothers Childhood Home) was saved and that its guardians in Shenandoah, Iowa have given me the opportunity to stand alongside them. This photo was taken during Shenfest in September. After walking in the parade that Saturday and tending to multiple projects during the community's annual harvest celebration, I had a quiet moment with the Everly family's 803 Sixth Avenue home. It is the historical and cultural heart of Shenandoah.
With a spare key in hand, my twin sister Sheryl and I had invested long hours at the home cleaning, preparing exhibit materials, arranging its digital preservation via LIDAR scanning technology and speaking with many Everly fans, friends, classmates and neighbors. Visitors from 10 different states signed the house guestbook. While working late one evening, Sheryl and I had our own pizza party and sang Everly songs as they played on the jukebox. Since our first visit in October 2016, we've become enamored with this darling little home and the town in which Don and Phil spent their formative years. Being from a small mid-western town ourselves, it feels like home to us.
Since January, I've been consulting with the customer experience software company Nanonation about incorporating Interactive Display Technology (IDT) into the exhibit landscape. Our committee has been looking for a system that can provide a digital archive and software to educate visitors through digital storytelling. When reviewing information about Nanonation's work, I took it as a sign that I was on the right path when I saw their case study for Boys Town. Just one month prior I'd conducted an interview with John Mollison, Boys Town's Senior Alumni Advisor, who was a chorister on the 1962 album, Christmas with the Everly Brothers and the Boys Town Choir.
Technology should always be handled with great care when applied to historic places. In order to make it as minimally invasive to the small museum space while maintaining historical integrity, we came up with an approach featuring a wall-mounted kiosk with a 42" touch screen and custom vintage radio shroud. The shroud, shown in the design mock below, pays homage to Shenandoah’s Golden Age of Radio which marked the duo's professional beginnings as child stars in the 1940s. The kiosk will replace the existing wall jukebox so that it doesn't disturb the fabric of the remainder of the home.
In early March, I identified a grant through the State Historical Society of Iowa (Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs) that could possibly fund this new project. The Historical Resource Development Program (HRDP) provides grant funding to help preserve, conserve, interpret, enhance and educate the public about Iowa’s historical assets. The HRDP provides funding for documentary collections, historic preservation and museums.
As the HRDP Project Officer, I was responsible for most of the writing and research presented in the application, but I couldn't have done it without the help of the committee. I'm thankful to Bill Hillman, Shelly Warner, Rebecca Castle and my twin sister Sheryl for their notable contributions. Being new to museum technology design and grant writing, I especially appreciated Nanonation Senior Sales Manager Jennifer Witherby and IDCA Grants Manager Kristen Vander Molen for their patience and advisement while I navigated a slight learning curve!
Last night, on the eve of the grant deadline, it felt rewarding to click "Submit" and send away the dissertation-like proposal spanning 23 pages. A green and white check mark never looked so beautiful! It was a challenging, yet very rewarding adventure. It's my hope that I'll be able to share the news with everyone by July 1st that our project has been funded. In the case that we're not selected as an HRDP recipient, fundraising efforts will continue until we reach our goal. Guardianship is as much about tenacity as it is passion!
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