BRUNSWICK, MD – Journey Stories, a Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) traveling exhibition will be touring Maryland this year under the auspices of the Maryland Humanities Council (MHC). Brunswick was chosen as one of the five host sites through a competitive process due to the combined efforts of Rebecca O’Leary of the Brunswick Railroad Museum and Robin Bowers of the Frederick County Public Library, Brunswick Branch. “Journey Stories, with its themes of travel and movement in America, was a natural fit for Brunswick,” O’Leary said. “We are thrilled to have been chosen as one of the Maryland host sites. It’s a huge honor for our community.”
Journey Stories will be in Brunswick, with the main exhibit housed in the Kaplon building at 102 W. Potomac St., from August 31, 2012 through October 12, 2012. O’Leary and Bowers have assembled a local committee to help plan a variety of programs, exhibits, and performances to complement the Journey Stories experience, including a World War I living history encampment in Square Corner Park on September 2 and presentation by Gwendolyn Briley-Strand called “Harriet Tubman: Meet the Woman” at the Brunswick Public Library on September 15. Journey Stories will kick off on August 31 with a number of special events, including a celebration of international dance in Square Corner Park, and a special concert in Rail View Park at 7 pm by GRAMMY nominated recording artist Ray Owen, who will be presenting a program of classic railroad songs and stories through the generosity of the Community Foundation of Frederick County. A special website dedicated to Journey Stories events and activities will go live on or about June 1 and will have complete programming information as it becomes available.
The Journey Stories Committee is also responsible for securing funding for the event. “We’re always looking for sponsors!” O’Leary said. Local businesses and individuals interested in becoming sponsors are asked to please contact O’Leary at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 834-7100 for a package outlining the benefits of sponsorship. “We have sponsorship levels from $50 all the way up to $5,000 plus,” O’Leary said. “We’d love to see this be a full community effort.”
Brunswick Journey Stories was also chosen as a pilot program for a Smithsonian Institute oral history project. The Smithsonian provided a group of local students with training and recording equipment, while the Journey Stories committee selected a group of older residents to be interviewed by the students. The interviews will be edited into a short documentary that will be in constant rotation as part of the Journey Stories exhibit. The students have been conducting interviews throughout April and hope to have their documentary completed by the beginning of June. “This has been a great experience for both our students and our older residents,” Bowers, who is the great-granddaughter of Woody and Maxine Souder said. “It truly adds an intergenerational aspect to the project and has really given both the students and the residents insights into each other’s generation – some things are very different, but the fundamental things like family and friends are very, very much the same.”
The oral history project has also given O’Leary and Bowers some ideas about the local component of the Journey Stories exhibit. “A lot of our interview subjects have talked extensively about landmark Brunswick businesses like the Imperial Theatre, the five and dime, Watson’s Cut Rate, the Lace store, and, of course the Kaplon store,” Bowers said. Local citizens who have memorabilia from these businesses in particular who would like to loan items for the exhibit are asked to contact Rebecca O’Leary at email@example.com or (301) 834-7100. O’Leary and Bowers are also still interested in talking to local citizens who own items that might have been ordered from a mail order catalog like Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward for inclusion in the exhibit.
O’Leary and Bowers think Journey Stories will be a great opportunity for Brunswick. “The Tourism Council of Frederick County named us one of the top five must see events for 2012,” Bowers said. “This is just an amazing time to be in Brunswick,” O’Leary added.