Do You Believe in Magic?

“It’s important to remember that we all have MAGIC inside us.” -J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series

Any day now, I expect Hagrid to knock on my door and say, “Yer a wizard, Laura.” Because only with magical powers could I have gotten the museum ready in time for the opening.

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On the evening of Tuesday, October 6th, the Schingoethe Center of Aurora University officially opened its doors to the public after being closed for two years. About 250 people attended the opening, which was more than we had anticipated. In total for the week, we saw over 800 people come through our doors.

People were impressed with the new space, making me feel incredibly proud to have been a part of this endeavor. I was glad all our hard work had paid off!

Though, of course, visitors were only seeing the finished product…They didn’t have a clue how much work went into it all. They didn’t know about our blunders – or exactly how many times we rewrote that one introduction panel. But maybe that’s for the best! As far as they know, we’re magic…

POOF! It’s a museum.

Museum Branch V Edited

This building, finished in June 2015, houses the new Schingoethe Center of Aurora University.

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Leveling one of our new display cases.

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Children enjoying our World of the Kachina exhibit in the new Marlin Johnston Family Gallery.

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Two visitors checking out Wendell Minor’s America, a traveling exhibit on loan from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.

But sigh…No matter how hard you’ve worked, you’ll always have your critics.

Those who had been to the museum previously were expecting to see the museum just as it was before, with its kid-friendly environment and plethora of hands-on activities. But with the construction of this new building, the director decided to update a few things, including the museum’s mission statement. The museum is still dedicated to representing Native American cultures, of course, but now the museum is less ethnographic, less “kid-centric,” and more art-focused, targeting high school and college students.

Teachers especially were, uh, alarmed by the changes. “Does this mean you won’t be doing any more school tours?” “Where did the wigwam go?” (The museum used to have a life-sized wigwam, and it was pretty cool, but there’s just no room for it in the new space.)

I’ve actually had a few people tell me they were “disappointed” with the changes we’d made. Guess you can’t make everybody happy!

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Ouch!

As disheartening as it was to hear comments like those, we also heard a good amount of praise for the new museum. Many alums, who remembered the museum when it was in a damp, dark basement in Dunham Hall, were pleased and told me they looked forward to visiting again in the future.

To be fair, I can’t say I’m exactly thrilled about the museum becoming more art-focused either (art just isn’t my thing), but I think it’s a change that we’ll all just have to adjust to.

And I can’t wait to see what the coming year has in store for us!

…and by the way, J.K. Rowling, I’m still waiting on that Hogwarts letter.

In the meantime…Accio, sleep!

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