Where No Curator Has Gone Before

By: Jayna Hintz, curator of education on January 20th, 2010

Community outreach is part of what I do as a museum educator.

Saturday, January 9th, I was at EVERCON!*

If you have done outreach, you understand the need for a portable dolly, something that can haul multiple plastic bins. Bins filled with the hands-on activity for the day.

My bins are filled with a Badge-o-Matic machine and accessories, gaming magazines, comic books, scissors, colored pencils, markers, and glue sticks. I haul the bins through the slush-covered pavement of the D.C. Everest Junior High parking lot, thinking larger treads on my wheels would be really helpful. How many of you at 7:30 am on a Saturday are thinking you could use larger treads on your portable dolly? It’s a real thought!

I enter the Junior High, check in to receive my name badge, and am escorted to my designated tables in the cafeteria. Pulling out my plastic Spider-Man tablecloths, I set to work covering the tables to limit the possibility of leaving marker and glue behind. An announcement booms throughout the building: “We will be opening early. Let them in!!”

OK, I WILL NOT PANIC! I saw the line at the door on my way in. I WILL NOT PANIC!

I pull out the Badge-o-Matic, quickly arrange supplies with what I like to think of as “artistic flair” and set out fliers about the Woodson Art Museum’s summer camps against a red splash of color – for a bit more flair. Deep breath. I haven’t been ambushed yet. Time to sit behind my assigned tables and take a look around.

Johnny Cee’s Cards is to my right. It’s a great store on Grand Avenue that donated the gaming magazines that participants will cut images from for their buttons. Gaming exhibitors selling and marketing their wares encompass the room. On the far left, board games are set up for families and teens to play or learn how to play. Behind me is the food court. I feel I’m in a good spot, not hidden in a corner but out with the masses and near the food, always a good thing. Where there is food people are sure to follow.

As I gaze around, people start entering our area. Did I say people? What I actually see are three Star Trek characters, a Heartless character, and many anime characters mixed in with teens, adults, and children. No one seems to be stopping. I run to the other side of the table. What’s wrong? Does something look odd? Is it me? I know what’s wrong! My sign should say FREE buttons! I make a sign, not so artistic, but legible. Three minutes go by and I have a crowd.

Nine hours later and over 370 buttons made with the Badge-o-Matic! What a great day. I met so many people of all ages and so many “characters.” A great day, but I was ready to go home.

Beam me up, Scotty!

* EVERCON is an annual event held by the D.C. Everest Gaming Club to foster education and advancement for the interests of Gaming, Anime, Manga, Role Playing, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy enthusiasts. It is held in the Schofield/Weston, Wisconsin, area.

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