Museum of Art seeks stories for Oral History Weekend

The past four years have been among the most trying periods in modern history. Now people can share their experiences in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and reflect on one of the 20th century’s biggest challenges during a special event.

The Oral History Weekend, presented in partnership with the Springfield Museum of Art (SMOA), Heritage Center of Clark County and Dr. Cynthia Richards of Wittenberg University, invites people to share their stories of living through the pandemic and of their families who lived through the Great Depression, tying in with the SMOA’s feature exhibition, “Chronicles: The Great Depression and the Pandemic.”

People can share their stories, participate in conversations and visit the exhibition, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday at the SMOA, 107 Cliff Park Road. Admission is free both days.

SMOA museum educator Amy Korpieski said the weekend’s goal is to invite people to tell their stories of resilience during the pandemic for which there will be several options for capturing these including:

-A court reporter in the exhibition gallery where visitors can sit and tell their stories to the reporter.

-A voice to text option on the gallery’s iPad.

-Handwriting is welcome with writing boards available with prompts in the gallery.

-Audio or video recording provided by the Heritage Center will be available in the adjacent gallery.

Korpieski said first responders in particular will be among the stories that are especially being sought.

While the expectation is for the majority of the stories to be related to the pandemic, there is hope for some to get family members’ memories of the Great Depression.

“When people come out of the exhibition, so many are moved by the Great Depression. We’re trying to make sure it’s not forgotten,” said Korpieski.

The stories collected may appear in text in the SMOA gallery or community spaces and will be archived at the Heritage Center. Even if people don’t want to share stories, they are still welcome to view out the exhibition, which will be open through the end of March.

Similar to how the “Black Lives as Subject Matter II” exhibition inspired educational events tied in with it, Korpieski said this project is similar in the SMOA and the other partners offering events that inspire conversation and help us learn from and share with each other.

“The Springfield Museum of Art brings exhibitions that connect with, and reflect, interests in our community,” she said. “While the artwork is with us the Museum tried to create intentional times for community building and sharing, ways to come together in the galleries to hear each other and share our stories.”

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