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Exhibit will further showcase our history

In a little more than a week, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institute will temporarily call Weirton its home.

“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” is touring the state through the efforts of the West Virginia Humanities Council, and will begin its stay at the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center with an opening reception at 5:30 p.m., Jan. 31.

Weirton has been incredibly fortunate to host a few of these traveling exhibits over the years.

The first I remember was held in the downstairs meeting room of the Mary H. Weir Public Library, brought to the community through the efforts of Rik Rekowski and the library staff. It’s been quite some time since that exhibit, but I believe it focused on technology and communication.

“The Way We Worked,” came to the community in late 2011, with a focus on industry. At that time, the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center had moved to its current location, and was able to offer a larger space. Then-director Dennis Jones and the museum board offered a variety of local programs to complement the touring portions, with glimpses at the history of local industries and the people who filled those jobs over the years.

The last one to make its way here, “Hometown Teams,” focused on the role of sports in the American culture. It, also, was at the Weirton museum, setting up for six weeks in 2014 with numerous exhibits on local sports in addition to the national displays. There were presentations by a few of our many hometown sports figures, including a couple who went on to play at the professional level.

The “Homegrown Athletes” sign, showcasing the names of Weirton’s professional athletes and the sports in which they played, also was unveiled by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce. The sign is still there at the intersection of Cove Road and Weir Avenue, using a goal post from the old Jimmy Carey Stadium, although it is in the process of some needed repairs after heavy winds damaged some of the signs.

The Summit Art Galley also hosted a sports-themed exhibit to tie into the programs.

It’s not an easy thing to be selected for these traveling exhibits, so the fact Weirton has been picked for at least four of them is a testament to the organizational abilities and community spirit of those working to bring them here.

We have a wealth of local history which has gone well for many of these programs, and I’m glad to see our residents have another opportunity to explore and learn.

The kickoff reception will include presentations by Paul Zuros, executive director of Historic Fort Steuben, and Mike Swartzmiller, a local artist and former educator.

“Crossroads,” will be in Weirton for five weeks, and include presentations on local agriculture and agriculture-based tourism, a historical re-enactment and tribute to Mary Shakley Ferguson, a lecture on Hancock County’s industrial history and a musical performance by R.J. Gaudio.

Other activities also are planned, including a kid-friendly museum scavenger hunt on March 5, the final weekend of the show, which also will feature a celebration of Weirton’s 75th anniversary as an incorporated city.

A full listing of activities was included on our Community page in Thursday’s edition. Additional information also is featured through the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center’s website and Facebook page.

I would like to personally offer my thanks to Savannah Guz, the director of the Weirton Museum, and everyone on its volunteer board for the work they have put in to bringing this exhibit to our area. The Weirton Museum does a tremendous job preserving and showcasing our local history, and this is just one more indication that the work they do is paying off.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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