Have you ever swung a wall around?

When I was a teenager, the year after my three sisters got married (yes, in the same year — 1971, the year I turned twelve), my mother decided that it would be nice if the newly-vacated two smallest bedrooms in our house could be turned into one.  On one side of the wall between the two rooms was a large built-in bookcase.  So she asked my father (who could do just about anything) if he couldn’t just swing that wall around so that the bookcase would be on the wall between the two doors.

My father, as I remember, gave her a pained look and gently told her, it doesn’t quite work that way.  Then he took the bookcase down, tore the wall out, rewired the ceiling lights so both would come on no matter which switch you hit, filled the gaps in the walls and ceiling with drywall, scraped asphalt tile off the floor of one bedroom and removed carpet from the other, sanded the floor till it was even, painted the walls and ceiling, laid down new carpet, and reinstalled the bookcase on the wall between the two doors.  It took him about six months, if I remember correctly.

Today I helped swing several walls.  Granted, they are temporary, made out of hinged-together hollow core doors, but if a device to separate one large room into several small ones can be called a wall, these are walls.

They were at the Lakewood History Museum, where my exhibit, “Clover Park, how a school district helped create a community,” will open three weeks from today.  It’s coming down to the wire.  The photos are selected, the text has been written, the text and photos for the four large panels have been sent to the fabricator, I have received the templates for the small text and the photo panels from her, and I have begun to create the smaller panels to put on a flash drive to take to the printer.  Next week we will have a mounting party, myself and several volunteers, to mount all the panels onto foam core board, and I will also fill the two cases with artifacts.  Week after next we will hang all the panels and I will add the case labels to the display cases.  We will have our grand opening on Saturday March 19th.  If you happen to be in the Tacoma, Washington, area on that day, the museum will be open from 12 noon to 5 pm, the ribbon cutting will be at 1 pm, and I would be extremely pleased to see you there.

I’ve been working on this project since the beginning of last November.  Not quite six months — it’ll be about four and a half by the time the exhibit opens.  I’ve interviewed about twenty people (including the 100-year-old daughter of the woman who pretty much founded the school district singlehandedly — sadly, she died last week, so this exhibit will be in her memory), collected photographs and artifacts from everywhere and everyone I could think of plus a few more, scanned dozens of the former, visited archives both here and out of town, assembled more information and facts about the Clover Park School District than I ever knew existed, and written a story in words, pictures, and objects that was far more interesting to create than I ever expected.  I hope it will be as interesting for the people who experience it.

I’m almost there.  I’m — figuratively speaking — painting walls and laying carpet. 

But today I actually did swing a few walls around.  Literally.  My father would have been jealous.

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Categories: museum work, museums, philosophy, research, writing | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Have you ever swung a wall around?

  1. Fun! Will you be able to post pictures?

  2. Yes, and I will.

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