By BRIAN M. JOHNSON
NEW BRITAIN HERALD STAFF WRITER
NEW BRITAIN — The Industrial Museum was awarded a $1,072 grant from CT Humanities to fund its Story Project, collaboration with Central Connecticut State University. According to museum director Karen Hudkins, the Story Project was inspired by the year-long initiative CT Works, sponsored by CT Humanities.
The project involved students in CCSU Professor Mary Collins’ non-fiction narrative class interviewing people who have worked in New Britain factories. Interested members of the public have also been invited to participate in the project. Excerpts from submitted interviews will be featured in a free exhibit, “Nuts and Bolts of New Britain Manufacturing,” running March 14 to April 22 at Gallery 66 in the Downtown Districts Visitors Center, 66 West Main St.
The exhibit will also feature at least 24 photographs taken by CCSU Professor Eleanor Thornton’s design students. Hannah Hurwitz, Assistant Director of Community Engagement at Community Central assisted with setting up the exhibit.
Collins said transcripts from the interviews, video and audio clips will eventually be incorporated into nbim.org, the Industrial Museum’s website.
Collins encouraged school groups to take advantage of the exhibit, which she called a “really cool educational tool.”
“If you’re teaching about the industrial revolution, this is an excellent opportunity for a field trip to come see the objects in the museum’s amazing collection and learn about the people and stories behind them,” she said.
Hudkins said that the exhibit should spark interest both the museum and downtown New Britain.
“My goal is to increase pride in the community,” she said. “You can’t be proud of a community unless you understand what was accomplished here. New Britain has accomplished a lot. Unfortunately, what people remember and promote is mostly about what went wrong. We want to get the conversation back to what happened right. I see the museum as the bridge between the past, present and future.”
“There is a lot of good still going on in New Britain and we don’t only want to focus on the past,” added Collins. “It’s the university’s responsibility to do more to use our considerable resources to make sure CCSU students connect in some way to the larger community. We want to bring students out of the bubble they are in and have them come see this exhibit, which they probably didn’t even know about.”
Hudkins said members of the public may conduct interviews for the exhibit and may still contact her at (860) 832-8654 before Feb. 10. An interview form can be downloaded from nbim.org or picked up at the library at 20 High St. or the Visitor’s Center.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at (860) 225-4601, ext 216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.