What if there was a time capsule spanning four generations’ worth of childhoods in Connecticut? Brace yourselves, because there is.
Since fall 2015, the Connecticut Historical Society has been collecting objects, images and stories for their exhibit: Growing Up in Connecticut. The purpose of the exhibit is to promote and encourage cross-generational communication and understanding. Each generation (the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials) faced their own set of adversity and unique circumstances; both the exhibit and online gallery explore and embrace the differences and similarities each generation experienced.
Created by CHS lead exhibit developer, Ben Gammel, Growing Up in Connecticut features an assortment of items: clothing, toys,photographs, and books among other things relevant to growing up in Connecticut between 1928 and 1996. Some items found in the exhibit include over-the-shoe metal roller skates, old comic books, old-school technology such as a typewriter, an old Friendly’s Ice Cream waitress uniform and even a prom dress! The motley collection of featured items inspire conversation; museum goers recall what styles they wore, their favorite toys, historical happenings during their childhood. The museum has even re-created a basement including a video game console from 1982, bean bag chairs, a lava lamp and an assortment of rock music posters honoring Queen, the Beatles, Def Leppard, and Aerosmith.
Guests are encouraged to interact with the exhibit by leaving their own experiences behind as stories on sticky post-it notes throughout the rooms. It is both rewarding and fascinating to see opinions and memories of youth then and youth now. Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration (born 1997-present) have left their own mark on the exhibit, leaving post-it notes to express their favorite toys, memories, and heroes of their time. The most in-depth audience participation is on the timeline ranging from 1928-present day; timeline notches include the Hartford Circus Fire, the JFK Assassination, the release of the movie Frozen, and more! Personal touches are made along the timeline too, such as births of visitors, their relatives, personal remembrances of the historical moments. Additionally, there is an online gallery for Growing Up in Connecticut and a series of exhibit tours & conversation every Saturday through October 15th.
Developed in 1825, the Connecticut Historical Society collects, preserves, interprets and provides access to both real and tangible objects from our history as a state. It is the state’s official historical society and one of the oldest in the nation. Located on Elizabeth Street in Hartford, CHS is home to a museum, library and the Edgar F. Waterman Research Center, all of which are open to the public. The Connecticut Historical Society’s collection is comprised of more than 4 million manuscripts, artifacts, books, graphics and other historical materials. The Connecticut Historical Society has taken it upon itself to help locals understand and utilize Connecticut’s history as tools for today’s pressing issues.
The Connecticut Historical Society is currently showcasing a number of exhibits in addition to Growing Up in Connecticut. Connecticut Traditional Artists and Their Communities is taking place at the Gallery at Constitution Plaza through November 4th. Connecticut Traditional Artists and Their Communities highlights the work of Connecticut’s folk artists whose artwork and creativity expresses the history, values, beliefs and cultures important to their heritage. In the museum itself, Making Connecticut, Inn & Tavern Signs of Connecticut and the Veeder Living Room are on display indefinitely. Additionally, the Mas: Costumes from Hartford’s West Indian Community exhibit opened on August 18th. The exhibit showcases Trinidad-style carnival costumes made by local teens this summer. This is the 6th year the Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program and the Connecticut International Cultural Carnival Association collaborated under the direction of Linford “Junior” Miller to create Mas Camp where the costumes are created.
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