Department of Archives and History opens new exhibits

First Lady Dianne Bentley will cut the ribbon on Friday, August 26, to open the first two exhibits of the Museum of Alabama at the Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. The 11:30 ceremony will be followed by tours of the exhibits and opportunities to the meet the advisors, artists, and designers involved in the project. Grand Opening festivities continue on Saturday, August 27, with a full schedule of public programs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Events include gallery tours, guest speakers, hands-on activities for families, and demonstrations by muralists and model makers. The two new exhibits, The Land of Alabama and The First Alabamians, tell the story of the earliest days of Alabama history.

The Land of Alabama includes a multimedia introduction to the state’s varied geography and the natural resources that have helped shape Alabama history.  The gallery also features photographs by Beth Maynor Young highlighting Alabama’s diverse and beautiful environment.  Artifacts help illustrate the state’s natural resources and products from the land of Alabama.  On Saturday, guest curator Dr. John Hall of the University of West Alabama will present a talk at 10:00 about Alabama’s earliest history and will meet with visitors to the gallery throughout the day. The First Alabamians tells the story of Native Americans from prehistory to 1700 using artifacts, interactive maps, a large diorama model of a Mississippian village, and ten specially commissioned murals created by Karen Carr Studio.  Guest curator Dr. Craig Sheldon will present a program on Alabama’s earliest people at 1:00 and will be available to meet with visitors in the gallery throughout the day.  Diorama artist Ken Osen and muralist Karen Carr will also be available to discuss their research and artistry.

The two exhibits constitute Phase I of the Museum of Alabama, which eventually will include five renovated galleries and an entirely new centerpiece exhibit, Alabama Voices.  Funding for Phase I was provided by a 2007 state bond issue and private contributions.  Fundraising for subsequent phases of the project is ongoing. The exhibits at the Alabama Department of Archives and History will be open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 – 4:30, starting August 27, 2011.  Funding to allow the Museum of Alabama to open every Saturday is made possible by a grant from the Alabama Tourism Department to the Friends of the Alabama Archives.  The Research Room is open Tuesday through Friday, 8:30 – 4:30, and the 2nd Saturday of each month.

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