BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, EDITOR
A public open house on the future of Boyne City’s museum last week was a first step in the future of the city’s history.
Joe Hines of Project Arts & Ideas of Dearborn, who has worked on hundreds of exhibits and spent years working with museums including The Henry Ford Museum, walked the approximately 15 attendees of the meeting through the early steps of pre-planning for the city’s new museum.
“He’s going to be helping us put our story together, asking information from the public and working with all of you,” Boyne Historical Commission Chair Michele Hewitt told a small group of local history buffs, city leaders and members of the public.
During the day leading up to the Thursday March 9 museum open house, Hines toured the community, as well as the space in the new city facilities project, currently under construction, where the museum will be located.
“It was very pleasant to meet people,” Hines said… “Frankly, that’s where it starts to happen.”
He added, “You’ve got so much to offer and so much to work with and an awful lot to look forward to.”
Hines said everywhere he went and everyone he talked to sparked ideas.
As part of the process, Hines is circulating a pre-planning survey which will help give him information regarding the direction the town wants the museum to go.
“The museum … is something of a landmark,” said Hines, who said the museum will become somewhat of a social center of the city.
He added, “Museums are what I call ‘meaning makers.’ They will be facilities that create meaning that offer stories that I would say create narrative and, in particular on a more practical level, museums really kind of are gatherers and protectors of local heritage.”
Hines said a museum is not just a place to show stuff but should be used as a communication tool.
Hines said the architectural experience of the museum is important as well.
“We’re talking about creating an interesting ‘aha’ sort of space that you’re going to get hit by as soon as you walk in,” he said. “And, that is the first level of interest.”
Hines said it is important to consider the lighting and graphics used as well.
“From there, considering the range of ‘what is the story?’” he said, adding that crafting the story is the backbone: it could be chronological or thematic.
While working out the general storyline, Hines said the artifacts should be selected based on how well they support the storyline.
Hines said the city’s historic LaFrance fire truck is a good example of a valuable artifact which must carefully be displayed to reduce the potential for damage to it.
He said the potential risk of exhibiting items must always be weighed with the value of showing them.
Hines said a museum needn’t show all its pieces at once, and that large museums routinely only show a small percentage of their artifacts at a time—opting to store and protect large portions of their catalog.
“If your museum has changing components, it will always give people a reason to return,” said Hines… “But, also a reason for publicity.”
Hines was asked if there was adequate room planned for Boyne’s museum to do everything the city wants to do.
Hines said he believes there is plenty of room to offer an inspirational selection.
“You’ve got a good chunk of space and a handsome space,” he said, adding that museums aim to give impressions and not explanations…. “Don’t see it that you’re trying to pack in a lot of content with things. It’s more of a presentation of a selection.”
Hines suggested the city consider dedicating space in the museum for both permanent and rotating displays.
Public comments during the meeting included ideas for placing displays connected with the museum at locations around the community, possibly having a museum store which offers art, books, and other items related to Boyne City history.
One person said he would like to see performances appropriate to the museum, such as jazz music, considered.
Another attendee said the museum should appeal to all the senses.
Hines said other questions that need to be answered are whether the museum will always be staffed, or will people be able to self-tour. Also, he said the city needs to determine where it will find volunteers to help operate the museum.
Boyne historical officials said the Harbor Springs museum model is one they would most like to emulate.
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said, at this point, the city is providing the space and likely the utilities. He said the city may lease the property to a non-profit which oversees the museum, however all those details need to be worked out.
“We’re starting here at ground one with no assumptions other than we’re going to have a space, we’re going to have a museum,” Cain said. “It’s up to the community to decide what that space and what that museum will be—both in substance and in … structure.”
If you have information regarding Boyne’s history you think should be included in Boyne’s story, call Michele Hewitt at 582-0335 or e-mail her at email@example.com.