the genius of the local historical society museum

PI_GOLBE_HISTSOC_FT_002Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set:

In Richfield Springs, New York, in the summer of 2013, I stopped into the local historical society just around closing time. I asked the Museum Assistant, Mr. Hazelton — a man in his 70s or thereabouts — if I could have a brief look around. Mr. Hazelton told me, in true historical society fashion, that this was impossible, as the museum was almost closed. Then he told me I could stay five minutes and, also in true historical society fashion, offered to show me around. We went through all the newspaper clippings taped to the walls, and the Richfield Springs miscellany encased beneath them. I saw a miniature version of the famous Richfield Springs clock, and an assortment of Richfield Springs commemorative mugs. By the time Mr. Hazelton had introduced me to most of the Richfield Springs citizens in the high school yearbooks dating from the 1940s, it was well past closing time. Having reached the end of the single room that comprised the Richfield Springs Historic Association Museum, Mr. Hazelton offered me some candy. He told me about himself, about his wife and children, and then about his children’s children. It was near dark when Mr. Hazelton ran out of talking and presented his sketches of barns. The sketches had been individually mounted on white-and-purple notecards by Mrs. Hazelton herself. Each one was signed by Mr. Hazelton and dated. And so, this is another kind of art you can find in a historical society: an ephemeral art of now, created by none other than the Museum Assistant himself, for the benefit of his own museum.

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