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Grad curates historical exhibit for local museum

05/28/2014

Recently graduated history major Seth Drouin '14 of New Bedford, Mass., got a jump start on his goal of becoming a museum curator when he prepared and installed a new exhibit this month in the North Adams Museum of History and Science.

Located in Building 5A at Western Gateway Heritage State Park,  Drouin's "Famous Former Residents" exhibit features biographical information on, memorabilia from, and photographs of people born in North Adams, or local residents whose claim to fame resulted from what they did after they left the community. 

Those profiled in the exhibit range from historian-philosopher Will Durant to humanitarian-physician Paul Farmer, and include Baseball Hall of Famer Happy Jack Chesbro, Basketball Hall of Famer Oswald Tower, Rear Admiral Michael Flaherty and Vice Admiral Allan McCann. 

"History fascinates me as it deals with events that cannot be quantified in typical means, necessitating a reconstruction of the past that may or may not be accurate," Drouin said. "The debate over controversial subjects and the ongoing development of civilization is something that has always interested me."

The task of assembling the historical exhibit began with an internship that Drouin served with the museum, where he worked with historical letters dating back the 1890s and preserved historical videos.

To curate the exhibit, Drouin read and studied historical newspaper articles held in the museum, and did research online. Justyna Carlson, a member of the City of North Adams' Historical Commission who teaches history at MCLA, was instrumental, he said, in assisting him with her knowledge of local history.

Drouin enjoyed his first effort as a museum curator.

"I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to create another exhibit, as this one became a true passion of mine. As the project was being completed, I knew that I had found something special to me," Drouin said. "Designing and creating the exhibit has shown me just how creative and involved one can be when undertaking such a process."

Why did he choose MCLA to study history?

"It was as far away from my hometown as I could get without being out of state, and the small school environment was perfect for me," Drouin said.

"The history department is rigorous, but if you put in the effort, it will better prepare you for all your future endeavors in the field," he continued. "I would recommend MCLA to students who are looking for a small community where the individual can retain their identity and simultaneously meet a wide variety of students and faculty.

"If you want your professor to know your name and care about your welfare, I would say MCLA is a great place for this sort of attention to detail.  In addition, if you are serious about studying history, I would highly recommend MCLA, as the other schools I have attended did not prepare me nearly as much as MCLA has."

"Famous Former Residents," which opened on May 1, is free and open to the public during the museum's summer hours - Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, 1-4 p.m., or any time by appointment. For more information, go to www.northadamshistory.org .