The final project of a summer camp at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum will be on display in the lobby for all to see throughout the summer.
The camp, titled “When I Grow Up I Want to Work in a Museum,” featured behind-the-scenes tours and exploration of the new State Archive Preservation Facility, as well as learning how to clean and preserve artifacts and how to accept them and annotate the stories behind them.
Campers also worked with professional staff to create a miniature exhibit to be on display through Labor Day. It’s called “War Against Death: A Combat Medic in WWII, The story of John Gill.”
Erik Wright, education specialist at the museum, said this was the first year of the camp, which came about when new education team members were brainstorming.
“What better way to show people what a museum does than to run a camp that highlights the total exhibits’ design process?” he said.
The camp, which ended June 28, was designed for students entering sixth through eighth grades, but an exception was made for a fifth-grader. While the museum had planned for up to 14 students, it turned out that the enrollment number of eight worked well because each camper could be assigned a museum position, such as museum director, education director, curator of history and exhibit specialist.
“So they have been getting the full array of instruction as far as a museum study course would go,” Wright said.
The job of curator of history suited Jack Kallal’s interests and skills learned this past year at school.
“I like fact-checking and research,” said Jack, a seventh-grader at Sennett Middle School. “It’s fun working as a team and making plans all together.”
The trip to the State Archive Preservation Facility was designed to spark ideas about what the campers wanted to feature in their exhibit. Their mission was to find a specific story and tell that story in a short amount of space and time, Wright said.
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“Along with putting this display together, they also have been receiving lessons on everyone else’s jobs.” he said. “They all are responsible for creating and sticking to the budget process.”
The campers also looked at how they would announce and invite others to the grand opening of their exhibit on the last day of the camp and what refreshments would be served.
Leo Avventi, a sixth-grader at Glacial Drumlin School in Cottage Grove, said he liked doing the marketing for the exhibit and emailing people.
“Eventually they will click on the pop-up,” he said.
Grace Horton, a fifth-grader at St. Ann School in Stoughton who served as reference archivist, said she likes working with paper artifacts because of what they reveal about the writer.
Lorna Smithberger, a sophomore at Middleton High School who served as a student leader for the camp, performed as director of the museum. She said her work with the museum is leading up to a project she will undertake to earn her Gold Award in Girl Scouts.
“I like learning about how other kids learn about history,” she said. “I learned so much about how to set up an exhibit and make it interactive.”
There are thoughts of running the camp again and perhaps revamping the idea for an adult education version.
“We’ve had some parents tell us as they are dropping their kids off, ‘I wish there was an adult version of this,’” Wright said.