Each year, a group of Eastern Illinois University graduate students is afforded the opportunity to research and produce its own museum exhibit via the two-semester History Museum Exhibits course within the curriculum for the Historical Administration master's degree program. This year's class produced Bridging the Past: Paul Sargent's Coles County, featuring a collection of paintings by Coles County artist Paul T. Sargent on display at Tarble Arts Center until June 12.
According to the project website, "This exhibition features paintings of recognized Coles County locales created by artist Paul T. Sargent (1880-1946), supplemented with photographs, artifacts and other contextual materials. Together these materials provide a sense of both change and continuity in the county spanning from Sargent's time to the present."
Of course, this exhibit involved more than just rounding up a few of Sargent's oil paintings — although all on their own, these early 20th century works provide a thought-provoking look at the time-induced transformations of the featured Coles County landscapes and landmarks. To supplement that idea, students have also researched and gathered present-day and vintage photographs, various artifacts, and a collection of Sargent's belongings.
The extras don't stop there, either. An audio tour guide, accessible via mobile devices, has been developed along with a geocaching activity to lead visitors to the actual sites of locations explored within the exhibit.
The project, advised by the History Department's Rick Riccio and Tarble Arts Center Director Michael Watts, saw students placed in various roles of the exhibit process — from the research, curation and procurement of artwork to the exhibit's design along with its Web presence and aforementioned extra features. While this year's project was done in collaboration with Tarble Arts Center, Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site is another frequent partner.
Lenders to the exhibition include the Lincoln-Sargent Farm Foundation and Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site. Pieces from Booth Library and Tarble's permanent collection are also incorporated, along with borrowed works from private collectors such as Gary Brinkmeyer, Joyce Callaway, David Kent Coy, and Nancy Easter Shick.
Members of the 2010-11 Historical Administration class are: