Porter County Museum debuts women’s history exhibit
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent March 16, 2014 7:32PM
Michelle Zolfo, left, and Meredith McKay, both seniors at Valparaiso University, sit in seats from the old Premier Movie Theater Sunday at the Porter County Museum while they watch a movie short about the suffragette movement in Porter County. | POST-TRIBUNE PHOTO
For more on what’s going on at the Porter County Museum, 153 S. Franklin St., Valparaiso, go to www.pocomuse.org, or call 465-3595.
Updated: April 18, 2014 6:23AM
VALPARAISO — Women are having their say at the Porter County Museum.
Sunday, the museum debuted “Making Her Place,” its first women’s history exhibit. The permanent display, on the museum’s second floor, features a wide array of Porter County women and their accomplishments, from Dale Messick of Ogden Dunes, who penned the “Brenda Starr” comic about an intrepid reporter, to Valparaiso native Patricia Ireland, who served for 10 years as president of the National Organization for Women.
The museum wanted an exhibit featuring the county’s women for inclusiveness, said Megan Telligman, an AmeriCorps volunteer who serves as a writer and researcher for the museum’s displays, adding she began work on the effort in August.
“I grew up here, so these women are familiar to me,” she said.
The exhibit is a who’s who of the county’s women and their work, including Dorothy Buell, founder of Save the Dunes and instrumental in the creation of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; women in Chesterton active in the temperance movement in the late 1800s, who clanged a bell to chase beer trucks out of town; and suffragettes in Hebron in 1917, who took advantage of a brief window when women had the power to vote in Indiana before the U.S. Constitution was amended, allowing women to vote, in 1920.
One of the challenges of the exhibit, Telligman said, is that women’s work is often intangible, without artifacts that lend themselves for display, like medals from war.
The answer was to tell the women’s stories, and challenge viewers of the exhibit to find their place in history as well.
“How will you make your place? How will you take these models and apply them to your own life? What will you do?” Telligman said. “It’s been inspiring to here these stories and an honor to share them.”
The exhibit is the best thing the museum has done yet, said executive director Kevin Pazour, adding that, with each exhibit, the museum tries to engage more people from Porter County.
He, too, is honored to tell the stories of the county’s women,” and hopefully do justice to these incredible things women have done.”