Opened for museum’s 50 th anniversary with new interpretive displays. “Grand Traditions”
Con Foster Museum Renovation
This presentation is a pictorial overview of the revitalization of the Con Foster Museum, a local history museum in Traverse City, Michigan. The museum was originally built as part of the Work Projects Administration in 1935. After 50 years of collections accumulations, the site was ripe for conversion from an artifact warehouse to a vibrant and vital part of the cultural life of the community. The 1984 project was coordinated by Caroline de Mauriac working with consultants from the Michigan State University Museum, members of local city government and staff, and most importantly hundreds of community volunteers. The original building was refurbished and retrofitted to serve as a more compatible site for the conservation and documentation needs of the collections. The exhibits and programs were designed to more effectively use the collections to interpret the history of the community and the surrounding region. After the museum’s 50 th anniversary re-dedication, Caroline continued working with community leaders, staff, and volunteers to operate the site. She also established a friends organization to support development of on going programs and exhibits.
CON FOSTER MUSEUM Traverse City, Michigan Caroline de Mauriac, Director 1984-1987 Original WPA Museum circa 1935
Before we started, Con Foster Museum contained nearly 50 years of collecting.
New exhibits opened for the museum’s 50 th anniversary
Many organizations helped tell the story of the region Traverse City Fire Department Grand Traverse Railroad Club City Opera House Committee
New exhibits interpreted the area’s local history Lumbering Pioneer Trades Early Native Culture Agricultural Heritage
But look there’s more… Cigar Store Indian circa 1900 After the re-opening, the museum continued to grow and change … . . with …
Special Exhibits We made dozens of plexiglass boxes to display these lumber era folk carvings.
The Work of Local Artists Contemporary potter, Frank Ettawageshik, studied the museum’s collection of prehistoric pot sherds to understand and recreate the pottery of his ancestors. He loaned pieces of his work for display and gave demonstrations of his techniques.
Schools Tours and Public Demonstrations Volunteer, Sharon Leder, trained as one of many docents to give school tours. Karla Finney, representative of the Grand Traverse Area Weavers Guild, demonstrates the Museum’s floor loom.
Special Projects The Michigan Quilt Project, sponsored by MSU museum, coordinated an effort to inventory both old and new quilts across the state of Michigan. Our event included an exhibition of quilts and quilted items drawing from the museum’s collections, local quilters’ work and community members’ heirlooms. Marilyn Flarety, local quilt expert, helps collect quilt data. “ Quilted But Not Quilts” “ Quilts Revisited”
Special Events Con Foster Museum’s Annual Folkways Festival featured local artists, craftsmen and performers during a three day event. A re-enactment group of Metis and fur traders set up a rendez-vous encampment on the grounds of the museum. Pete Noetling demonstrates the use of a schnitzelbank in finishing ax handles for trading. Metis re-enactor, Steve Hubert, invites Caroline to join the rendez-vous.
Carol Fischer – Rug Hooker Mary Decker - Spinner School groups flocked to the Folkways Festival.
Dan Nickles - Blacksmith Sally Meyers – Dried flowers and herbs
Musicians, Storytellers and Dancers Victor McManemy - Folksinger Leesa Wittus - Storyteller Contra Dancers So many unusual things to see and hear.
My work at Con Foster Museum was one of the most satisfying jobs of my professional career. Working to refurbish and revitalize Traverse City’s local history museum involved the efforts of countless volunteers, contributions from local businesses and organizations and the cooperation of the City of Traverse City’s Commissioners, Mayor and employees. Working with so many different types of people, in both temperament and talent, was challenging as well as rewarding. I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to serve as their Curator/Director and am certain that as much as I was able to teach the community and volunteers about museum collections, exhibits and programs , I learned even more from the talented and committed individuals who helped make the project a success. Caroline M. de Mauriac
This work is dedicated to Conrad Foster, founder and first Curator of the Con Foster Museum and to my husband, Terry Shaffer, who encouraged me in my early career and continues to support me personally and professionally. Northfield, MN Historical Society Costume Ball – but that’s another story ...