Students plan historical exhibition

By Dylan Reynolds

Students in The University of Akron’s new Museums and Archives certification program is planning to exhibit a collection of artifacts related to old buildings that the University has purchased and refurbished. Some of these buildings include the Polsky building, Quaker Square, The Cummings Center, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

The Museums and Archives program is a three-semester undergraduate certification program that prepares students for work or graduate studies in those fields. Students are required to receive practical experience from a local collecting institution.

The four students currently in the program decided to have their exhibition at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. For a topic, they chose old buildings that have been repaired and repurposed by the university. This repurposing is known as “adaptive reuse.”

A factor in their decision, according to student Ellen Mitchell, is that the Museums and Archives program is based out of one such building on campus. That building, known as the Roadway Building, is also the current home of the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology.

Mitchell pointed to several other buildings that the University has “adaptively reused,” including the Polsky building, which was a department store before the University converted it into an academic facility. She also mentioned Quaker Square, which was an oatmeal factory before it became a hotel and then a dormitory. In some parts of the building, dried oats still fall from the ceiling. Some of these oats will be featured in the exhibit.

In addition, the exhibit will feature archived photographs of adaptively reused buildings, including what Mitchell described as a beautiful image of the former St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

The students are currently browsing the collections of several local institutions for relevant artifacts. Some groups they have partnered with are UA Archival Services, Akron-Summit County Public Library Special Collections, and the Summit County Historical Society, as well as Mike Szczukowski, director of Materials Handling at UA. They are hoping that a search through the Polsky building’s collection will turn up some items that were for sale at the old department store.

Once the exhibition is finalized in early May, it will be on display for public viewing on the second floor of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, at 60 S. High Street.  A reception is being planned for the exhibit’s opening on May 7th, from 3-5 p.m., coinciding with the monthly Akron Art Walk.

Students who are interested in joining the Museums and Archives certificate program should contact Jodi Kearns at 330-972-7952, or by email at [email protected].