Summer School: It Takes Five Villages - Creating a Long-term Exhibit about the History of a Town

  • Wednesday, August 12, 2020
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Zoom


  • We are waiving individual session fees for those whose current financial situation requires it. To access this benefit, please use the registration code COVID19.

Registration is closed

In this panel presentation we will address the theme of stewardship by sharing methods and examples of how we involved residents in our award-winning, community-curated exhibit, “Washington Connecticut – An American Story”, how we interpreted and shared 10,000 years of our community’s stories, and the digital components we developed for the exhibit. We will relate how we created an inclusive exhibit that encompasses the history and communities of the five villages of Washington.

Photo of the entrance to Washington, Connecticut An American Story exhibition

Stephen Bartkus, Gunn Historical Museum Curator, will walk participants through the exhibit creation process – from writing the grant to the exhibit opening reception. He will share lessons learned, recommendations for participants who might be applying for a Good to Great grant, and the challenges we faced during the project.

Community participation was key to the success of this exhibit and we will discuss the important role of volunteers and contributors. From early research all the way through installation of the exhibit, these community partners had a sense of ownership and played a vital role in the successful outcome. Learn how we engaged the community to shape the exhibit by sharing their family stories, artifacts, and oral histories. We will provide advice and recommendations for other organizations that are interested in getting their communities involved in their museums and exhibits.

Julia Nable and Zoltan Csillag, exhibit designers from creative studio SandorMax, will discuss their experience of working with a local history museum to create a long-term exhibit covering the comprehensive history of a town. They will demonstrate their process for distilling 10,000 years of history into a limited physical space. They will relate their techniques for using compelling personal stories of individuals to tell a bigger story and make the exhibit topics come alive – sharing stories of Native Americans and colonists, the enslaved and abolitionists, immigrants and visionaries, soldiers and artists. They will also discuss materials, methods, and processes used to ensure the success of the exhibit within the challenges of an aggressive timeline, as well as advice for history organizations working with a professional exhibit designer.


  • Stephen Bartkus, Curator, Gunn Historical Museum
  • Julia Nable and Zoltan Csillag, Founders/Owners, SandorMax

Stephen Bartkus     Julia Nable     Zoltan Csillag

Sponsor: SandorMax is a creative agency that works with cultural organizations, museums, and municipalities to promote culture, history, and tourism. Our creative services include strategic planning, marketing, design, digital, and full-service museum exhibit designs.

Zoom Information: Registrants will receive the Zoom webinar information via email prior to the event.

Connecticut League of Museums
Central Connecticut State UniversityDepartment of History
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050
(860) 832-2674

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