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Showcasing the Past University creates a new home for memorabilia


C


aptivating glimpses of the 164- year history of Eastern Michigan University are now being show-


cased in a new gallery in McKenny Hall. Earlier this fall, museum-quality dis-


play cases, pedestals, shelves and lighting were installed in a newly remodeled room along the main corridor on the ground floor. It’s called the McKenny Gallery and will feature a rotating collection of histori- cal photos and other University memo- rabilia, such as leter sweaters, debate trophies, old leters and documents—any- thing connected to the evolution of the Michigan State Normal School, founded in 1849. A small, initial display


was installed in time for Homecoming weekend in late September. Browsing the photographs, visitors could look into the eyes of the nine members of the 1909 women’s basketball team and wonder how they could possibly play while wearing those bulky bloomers. Nearby, in a photo dated 1899, music professor Frederic Pease—yes, the namesake of Pease Auditorium—placidly poses with students in a Conservatory of Music class photo. EMU alumni from the 1960s could search for themselves in Homecoming parade photos of cheerlead- ers and the marching band promenading in front of spectator-lined streets in down- town Ypsilanti.


12 Eastern | FALL 2013 Also installed in time for Homecom-


ing was a beautiful old bell—think Lib- erty Bell without the crack—believed to have originally been in Old Main, one of the first campus buildings. Te bell had been stored in the basement of Roosevelt Hall and forgoten until staffers in the Operations and Facilities Department uncovered it, cleaned it up and built a display stand for it. It’s now a striking con- versation piece as visitors enter McKenny and start down the corridor toward the new gallery. Te University’s past is obviously


important to preserve as a historical re- cord, but it also needs to be displayed to generate understanding and conversations among current students regarding their place in the long history of the institution, said Walter Kraſt, EMU’s vice president for communications. Addition- ally, displaying the history helps build pride and cama- raderie for alums of every generation.


“We’re not a pop-up institution,” Kraſt


said. “We have a rich, rich history. We want students to understand the depth, breadth and history of the University. Tey’re part of something larger. It’s not just about going to class, going to a foot- ball game. It’s about the history and tradi- tion.” Kraſt chairs a commitee that continues to work out the details and operational


Photographs by Randy Mascharka


procedures for the new gallery. Te idea was to start small and build as the EMU community learns about and visits the gallery, he says. Fu- ture possibilities include installing video screens and informational kiosks in the hallway outside the gallery. Two commitee members, Randy Mas-


charka and Patrick J. Barry, Jr., were early champions of the project aſter they met five years ago at an alumni function and learned they had a mutual love of history, particularly EMU’s. Mascharka, a familiar face at EMU in his role as campus pho- tographer, began collecting and copying historic campus photos from the school’s past. Barry, a retired speech and English teacher in the Plymouth-Canton school district, lectures in EMU’s communica- tions program and is president-elect of the EMU Alumni Association. Highlighting history is an important


way to build alumni interest and loyalty, which oſten prompts alumni to give back to their university, Barry says. He sees the


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