New community-curated exhibit in Staunton showcases history in the making

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 8:12 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton is doing something new. It’s an exhibit, not about century-old history, but instead, it’s about modern-day experiences, and the history being made right now by people in the Shenandoah Valley.

“We’ve had all kinds of different exhibits in this gallery, but I never would have expected to have Cookout Polynesian sauce on display,” Andrew Phillips, a curator at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. “It’s one of the best things about this exhibit is the unexpected nature of the items that you’ll find here.”

The sauce is alongside toilet paper, a broken controller, a face mask, and more. They are all a part of Making History in the Present... a Community-Curated Exhibit.

“You don’t have to be president of the United States to be making an impact on history,” Phillips stated.

The items highlighting the last year and a half are from all kinds of people and ages living in the Shenandoah Valley.

“We thought it would mostly be about COVID-19, about the pandemic, about the lockdown, and people’s responses to it,” said Phillips. “But, the stories that we got were much more varied.”

They include stories about the Vigil for Justice in Staunton right after the murder of George Floyd, as well as the two flash floods that ripped through downtown Staunton last August. And, the library is still collecting history on an interactive board.

“Where people can share what they experienced in the last year and a half,” said Phillips.

There are messages written by museum visitors that say “Scared to leave my house, so I didn’t,” and “I realized I like dogs better than people,” and “This past year has been a roller coaster ride.”

“We will be learning about this period well in the future,” said Phillips.

Making History in the Present... a Community-Curated Exhibit will be on display at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton through March 2022.