OBERLIN — A museum popped up in Oberlin for a couple hours Sunday afternoon, providing a place to display curious items from the 20th and 19th centuries.
The most interesting facet of the museum was that its “artifacts” were provided as temporary donations by residents.
Held in First Church of Oberlin, United Church of Christ on North Main Street, the pop-up museum was the first of its kind in the city.
At least 50 participants could display their donations and explain their stories to visitors.
The event was co-hosted by the Oberlin Heritage Center Executive Director Liz Schultz as well as Oberlin African-American Genealogy and History Group President Annessa Wyman.
Oberlin Heritage Center board member Laurel Price Jones said the idea came from her time as a consultant with the Wisconsin State Historical Society, which had done something similar. During the downtime of closing their museum, the Wisconsin organization thought of taking the artifacts from the museum and having a mobile museum tour the state. It also had the idea of adding to the tour by letting residents bring in their old items of value.
“People would bring all kinds of things that were important to them or they thought was interesting or old and worthy of being in a museum, and they would create a pop-up museum and they would tell their stories,” she said.
“So I thought that was a really good idea, and when I got on the Heritage Center Board and we were thinking about what activities might help people think about their own history, we thought we could try this,” she said.
David Blood, a resident who moved to Oberlin in 2009, brought a radio from 1935 that he grew up with as a boy. The home radio still was functional, and was broadcasting rock ’n’ roll oldies from an area station. Blood said he remembers hearing Hitler’s voice on the radio during World War II.
Blood said the radio item was the first piece of technology that led him to a long career in electronic engineering.
One of the oldest items on display was a small ivory picture frame holding an illustration of an unknown woman from about 1820. Another unusual item was of an old wooden ratchet noisemaker believed to be from the 1800s. Other items included a church pew cushion from the 1900s, old photos, a violin, an electric train set and a quilt from a group of mothers raising money for civil rights protesters in 1965.