History is tied to aprons at the Park City Museum
September 27, 2016
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an apron as "a garment tied over the front of the body to protect the clothes," but best-selling author Ellyn-Anne Geisel sees the apron as something more — a historic item with a story.
That's what inspired her to create the traveling exhibit called "Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections," which will be on display at the Park City Museum through Dec. 11, according to Courtney Titus, the museum's curator of collections and exhibits.
"From my understanding, she found a vintage apron in a thrift store," Titus said during an interview and exhibit tour with The Park Record. "She needed the apron for a project and while she was ironing it, she noticed it was handmade and she started thinking about what kind of story was behind the apron."
That inspired Geisel to collect more aprons.
"While she did that, she began to collect stories about people's recollections about the aprons, the people who wore them and the circumstances they were worn in," Titus said. "That's what started this whole thing."
"Apron Chronicles" features more than 100 vintage aprons that are hung throughout the Park City Museum's Tozer Gallery.
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"It also includes more than 40 photographs that were taken by award-winning photographer Kristina Loggia," Titus said. "Accompanying the photos are stories by the people in the photographs."
The diverse storytellers include a Holocaust survivor, a biology professor from Mali, Africa, and a preteen and her grandmother, to name a few, according to Titus.
"It's an exhibit of nostalgia, heartbreak, families and memories both bitter and sweet," she said. "In some cases, the stories are told by those who wore the aprons themselves — artists, ceramicists [and] painters. They strapped on those aprons because they were trying to make a life for themselves as well."
The exhibit speaks to all ages across all generations, Titus said.
"I feel like any visitor who explores this exhibit will find a story or stories that will speak to them," she said.
In addition to showcasing the 100 aprons, Titus decided to highlight the exhibit with items from the Park City Museum's collection to give it a local touch.
"I found a masonic and nurse apron and a Speed Queen ringer washer machine from 1949, that was used in Park City," she said. "I think these are great additions, because if you read the stories, you will read about several people who remembered their grandmothers or moms using that type of machine."
Many of the stories focus on the idea that different aprons were used for different tasks, such as washday, cooking or clothes hanging.
"There is a clothes hanging apron that is referred to as the clothes-pin apron, because you put the clothes pins in the pocket when you hung the clothes on the line," Titus said.
That inspired Titus to add an interactive element to the exhibit.
"If anyone is inspired by the exhibit, there is a place where they can write down some of their memories and share their stories by hanging them on a clothesline," she said. "We already have three memories on the line, and hope to get a lot more."
The idea of memories and memoir writing will carry through November, when Geisel will visit the museum and host writing workshops, according to Titus.
"She'll guide participants through the process of recalling memories and writing them down," Titus said.
That workshop will be held on Friday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. until noon.
"We are working out how to register and make reservations," Titus said.
The night before, on Nov. 3, Geisel will lead another workshop called "A Celebration of the Apron, Remembering the Richness of Our Lives through a Humble Icon."
That will run from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m., Titus said.
"This will be her classic lecture," she said. "Ellyn-Anne will bring in a basket of aprons and speak of how they inspired her to create this exhibit and to get people to write their stories."
Speaking of baskets, another interactive element that is officially part of the exhibit features 40 aprons.
"Visitors can rummage through the aprons, pull them out to examine them and try them on," Titus said.
As a curator herself, Titus said "Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections" is a great example of what the Park City Museum tries to do with each of its exhibits.
"We try to find the stories behind the objects," she said. "I want to find those stories that brings these objects to life."
Park City Museum, 528 Main St., will show "Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections" through Sunday, Dec. 11. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for military and $5 for children ages 7 to 17. Children ages 6 and younger are free. For more information visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org.