Oxley Center takes museum in new direction

Chris Oaks spoke with Sarah Sisser, director of the Hancock Historical Museum.
Q: The museum dedicated its new Oxley Government Center this week. What was the genesis of the project? How did it come about?
A: The spark came about two years ago. For many years, the museum had a program for schoolchildren on American government that had fallen by the wayside.
When we launched a fundraising campaign at that time, Congressman Oxley was approached about helping to reinvigorate that program.
Q: It is an entirely new kind of project for the museum. What was involved in putting it together?
A: We were fortunate enough to be able to involve the LF Creative Group, a design firm out of Bowling Green and Cincinnati that has worked with entities such as the National Park Service and Disney, and they took it to a whole other level. The idea evolved to include a lot of interactive components, touch screens and so on, things we had never explored before at our small, local museum.
Q: The center still includes a significant historical component, of course. Why was it so important to go beyond that?
A: In our world today, technology brings a world of instant information to our fingertips. If you look at museums in that context, there is a great need to be entertaining and interactive, particularly to engage and inspire young people. We can show them those tangible links to our history and then use technology to put it in perspective and show why it’s important.
Q: And is this the type of presentation you might look to expand on in other areas of the museum?
A: We really hope so. In our new energy and transportation annex, for example, we’re exploring those types of possibilities.
Q: As you mentioned, this exhibit is geared to young people, particularly in conjunction with the schools, but it will be open to everyone during regular museum hours, as well.
A: Yes, as we designed the center, it was very important to us that the exhibits be appealing and engaging for visitors of all ages. The interactive timeline of Hancock County history is a great example. I think it will be enjoyable for everyone.
“Good Mornings!” with Chris Oaks airs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays on WFIN, 1330 kHz. He can be reached by email at chrisoaks@wfin.com, or at 419-422-4545.

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