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Cynthia Cotton

Cynthia Cotton

Internship Stories- Cynthia Cotton


MacLachlan Woodworking Museum, 2009

During the summer of 2009, I worked for the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum in Kingston, Ontario, as an exhibit designer. This job involved creating an exhibit from scratch as well as other daily and special event duties. I enjoyed this position greatly and I feel that I have learned a lot!

The MacLachlan Woodworking Museum is a small to medium sized museum which has two main focus areas. The museum has, historically, been a museum of woodworking tools; however, it now also features many artifacts of wood which are historic and/or aesthetic in nature. The educational components of the museum are wide reaching and include sessions of the role of wood in farming, pioneer life, toy making, and much more.

"The Sandy Exhibit," as it was commonly called, was the primary project that I was hired to undertake and complete during the summer of 2009. This project included the research of the life and deeds of Mr. Alexander 'Sandy' Grant MacLachlan, the design and creation of an exhibit based on this research, the opening of said exhibit and the deposit of the research materials into an appropriate archival venue.

The first phase of the project was the research, and it was my favorite part. I undertook ethnographic interviews with almost two dozen informants, from 3 countries, with ages ranging from 18 to nearly 90. I thoroughly enjoyed this portion of the summer, which lasted about 4 weeks, and feel that I honed my interview skills. During the height of my research time I would have as many as three interviews on a single day, but the exhaustion was worth it.

During the research phased I designed and refined the exhibit layout and goals of the exhibit. It was ultimately decided that the exhibit would feature the following things,

- a title panel

- a portrait of Sandy, cut out of wood and framed in multiple different woods

- a text panel featuring basic biographical outline of Sandy's life

- an audio-box which would feature narratives from the interviews, accessed by push-buttons

- a set of photo essays featuring photos from throughout Sandy's life, with explanatory captions

- a text panel featuring information about Sandy's penchant for collecting and the subsequent creation of the woodworking museum

- a video of still images of Sandy's original collections

- a reproduction of some of Sandy's original accession notes regarding the original collection of the museum

- a display box of artefacts from Sandy's original collection

It was also decided that the exhibit would be completely bilingual (English and French), including the audio components, and it would be made as accessible as possible for persons of various abilities/disabilities.  Another of my favourite things of the entire summer was the design and creation of the exhibit's audio-box. It was really fun to take an idea from concept to reality! Also, it was viewed as a good thing to include in this project because the museum caters to a lot of families with children. The children seemed really interested in pushing buttons and having 'stories' told to them.


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 Last Modified 9/25/14