Smithsonian traveling exhibit arriving soon

Posted on 07/30/2007

In December of 2005, Lewis J. Johnson, Assistant Curator of the Seminole Nation Museum, was awarded a fellowship opportunity to learn exhibit-making at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington,DC.

  Telling a tall tale, Assistant Curator Lewis Johnson entertains children at the Holdenville Public Library with a Seminole legend during a summer reading program.Johnson was one of twelve individuals chosen for the program throughout North America and was only one of two people chosen from Oklahoma. The workshop, which required Johnson to make three visits to Washington, DC, taught participants how to design, fabricate and promote an eight-panel exhibit that can be carried to schools, libraries, offices, businesses, clinics, churches, meetings and conferences.

Members of the group designed a map to show where the participants live, determined the layout and design of the panels, wrote text, and illustrated their information with various graphics, relying mostly on historic and contemporary photographs from their respective communities.

As part of the fellowship, the Smithsonian is producing six copies of the exhibit to be shared by the participants’ affiliated museums. Construction is almost complete and the exhibit will be arriving soon.

Johnson’s partner in the effort was fellow Oklahoman Ted Isham, curator of the Creek Council House Museum in Okmulgee. Both the Seminole Nation Museum and the Council House will share the exhibit and travel it jointly.

The title of the exhibit is “Finding our Balance” and explores the struggle many Native Americans face in maintaining their history and cultural identity in modern day life. The six topics under the general title of Finding our Balance are: Belief and Ceremony, Family and Community, Learning and Wisdom, Health and Wellness, Land and Water, and Human Rights and Repatriation. During the making of the exhibit, the group was videotaped as they worked on the project and a DVD has been provided to the participants for use with their copy of the exhibit.

It is planned that both the Creek Council House and the Seminole Nation Museum will add additional panels to the exhibit, making it more relative to both closely-tied cultures.

If you or an organization with which you are affiliated are interested in renting the exhibit, please contact the Seminole Nation Museum for scheduling and other information.