Exhibit to explore Silver City’s history

This story first appeared in the Silver City Daily Press. Click here to view it on scdailypress.com.

A town can learn and live through a lot in 50 years. The Silver City Museum is preparing to show just how much with an exhibit that will feature household items and personal testimonies from the community.

Opening Friday, the exhibit, “50 Years Ago in Silver City,” also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the museum’s opening. The opening also serves as a kickoff for a series of panel discussions, a digital storytelling workshop and listening event to be held throughout the summer and fall all tied into the history and culture of the past 50 years.

The building the museum is housed in — the historic H.B. Ailman House — has some unique history of its own — for the first three years of the museum’s existence, it shared the space with a local firehouse.

The exhibit will display historical items both on loan from community members and from the museum’s collection that characterize the evolution of the city and the diversity of the people who live here. Artifacts and photographs from the years 1962 to 1976 will show the popular culture, music, clothing, sports, and cars of the day.

Among them: the rugged combat boots of Town Councilor Jose Ray Jr. — still worn with dirt from half a century ago.

The exhibit will also present newsworthy local happenings in education, civil rights, mining, rodeo, and space exploration. Vignettes with artifacts collected in 1967 — the year the museum was founded — will be displayed in the hallway cases to give visitors a sense of the first collection of artifacts.

There will also be a series of panels over the course of the year, focusing on different eras and movements that helped shape the Silver City of today. Beginning with a talk on the founding of the museum, the panel series will also cover the civil right movement in Silver City, pop culture’s influence on the town, the Vietnam era and other topics. All panels start at noon. Admission is free and open to everyone.

Two people instrumental to the long-standing success of the museum will be on the first panel: museum founder and early board member Cecil Howard, and Susan Berry, who was the museum’s longstanding director for 36 years.

The opening reception will be held Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. and will feature popular refreshments from a past era. There will also be a costume contest so dig out those bell-bottoms and beads — you might just win a prize for grooviest get-up.

“We hope the exhibition and community panels we have planned will lead to greater understanding of the unique aspects of Grant County history and culture in the near past,” said Museum Director Carmen Vendelin. “Museum visitors will revisit the times and issues with the perspective and distance of 50 years. Hopefully, they will come to new and better understanding, spirit of reconciliation, appreciation, and moving forward as a community of individuals who lived through those times. More recent arrivals and out-of-town visitors will also gain a greater understanding of this place and its culture.”

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