News Column

High school students create history sea chest exhibit for Penobscot Marine Museum

May 31, 2014

By Abigail Curtis, Bangor Daily News, Maine

May 31--SEARSPORT, Maine -- A crack team of historic archivists and designers worked this spring to assemble an exhibit that will be displayed for two years at the Penobscot Marine Museum -- even before they finished their sophomore year of high school.

"I learned a lot through this project. It was really interesting," 16-year-old Hannah Garcelon of Stockton Springs explained last week while showing off the sea captain's trunk that she worked on as part of the museum's new exhibit called "History Chests."

The nine sea chests that were filled by the sophomore class at Searsport District High School contain artifacts and information about nine topics related to the area -- marine art, the granite industry, lumbering, fisheries, the Penobscot Nation, life at sea, navigation, ship building and Far East trade.

"Our essential overall question was how does Penobscot Bay affect this area, past and present?" Ari Jihan, 16, of Searsport said.

Garcelon, who worked with some of her classmates on the Far East trade trunk, said each person chose an object from the museum's archives that resonated with that student to put in the chest. She chose a lovely wooden tea box and caddy, made in China long ago for use in the tea trade.

"I really like the look of it, and I like tea," she said.

The tea trade was important to midcoast Maine, with its abundance of fast-moving clipper ships and stock of sea captains to sail them over the oceans. Garcelon learned a lot about the Far East trade while she was researching the tea caddy, and she chose a modern object that would give more relevance to it. She selected a single-serving plastic Keurig-type cylinder of tea, which she also put in the trunk.

"I did it to contrast how we went from big boxes that could be reused and carry a lot of tea, to these little disposable ones," she said.

Jihan's sea trunk focused on maritime art. He found a hand-tinted print by artist Rudolph Ackerman in the museum's collection and placed it in the sea captain's trunk specified for that topic, along with a modern postcard by Camden marine photographer Alison Langley.

The students handled the objects from the archives carefully, using gloves so they wouldn't harm them, and found ways to arrange them in the trunks that they hope will be visually interesting and also informative, he said.

Cipperly Good, collections manager of the museum, said she thinks the students succeeded.

"They're amazing," she said of the captain's trunks. "The labels are really well researched and written. They're creative. They did a good job of getting present-day objects to coordinate. They made the connections, which is the most important thing."

The collaboration between the nearby high school and the museum has been great, Good said, adding that it was wonderful on May 22 to have the students show off the exhibit to their families.

"That's what we're hoping -- that there's a reason for locals to come to the museum," she said. "That we're a community resource."

The History Chests exhibit will be on display at the Penobscot Marine Museum'sMerithew and Fowler True Ross houses through Oct. 19.


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Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)

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