"In many ways, there isn't another exhibit like this."
Tanis Monday, director of the Putnam County Museum, feels particularly close to the museum's "Notes and Beats" exhibit, which made its official debut Saturday, Aug. 20.
"The greatest thing, and sometimes most trying thing, is that we are the Putnam County Museum," Monday said. "Our exhibits reflect the community. No one else can tell quite the same story."
A sign reading "41 Original Hits from the Soundtrack of American Graffiti," complete with a painted diner waitress on roller skates, greets the museum's visitors as they enter the exhibit. Just below the sign lies a collection of simple musical instruments, such as kazoos and harmonicas, and explanations of how they operate. Past these relics are a variety of promotional T-shirts emblazoned with the logo of a local radio station, a bulletin board filled with old advertisements for local Greencastle bands and Little 5 performances, and a visual display of guitars and additional musical collectibles from years past. The final portion of the exhibit is composed of interactive elements — old records and tapes that visitors may leaf through if they wish, and a "Make Music" section for children.
"Putnam County really does have quite a music tradition and history," Monday said. "The exhibit covers a lot of different ground, everything from listening to music, to experiencing music in our lives, to learning music."
Monday added that because "Notes and Beats" displays so many different facets of Greencastle music culture, the exhibit didn't come into existence overnight.
"Music is something that we've tossed around as an exhibit topic for a while — to tell the story of the county from the musical angle, but we were not sure how it would visually display," Monday said. "How do you take an auditory experience and translate it visually? I think we did a really good job of capturing as much as possible."
DePauw professor Ronald Dye has been volunteering for two committees in favor of the music exhibit for about a year. One committee researched, designed and implemented the music exhibit, while the other created a CD of Putnam County music to raise money for the museum.
"In a simple way, the exhibit presents a glimpse of past and present local music and presents our local scene in the context of larger historical patterns. But it is only a glimpse," Dye said. "What about all those people we don't even know about? We hope the exhibit will prompt visitors to tell us about other music in Putnam County about which we are unaware."
In terms of visitors, Dye hopes the Greencastle community will obtain a sense of the breadth and diversity of local music. In the meantime, he encourages DePauw students to visit "Notes and Beats."
The integration of DePauw is present throughout the exhibit's entirety – a photograph of DePauw's performing arts building is presented in the same glass display case as a newspaper article about the Putnam County Opera House, promotional papers for DePauw events sit beside those for Greencastle bands on the "Gig Board" and a historical timeline of DePauw's School of Music appears near the end of the interactive portion.
"I hope (DePauw) students see that people in the community see DePauw as a part of the community, and are proud of the accomplishments of musicians connected to DePauw," Dye said. "I hope they take the time to learn a little bit of local and national history. The exhibit tells a story."
Junior Tina Galindo visited the exhibit and sifted through Aerosmith and Cher records in the "Browse Our Selection" component of the exhibit's interactive portion.
"It's cool to see how the instruments, posters and advertisements have changed," Galindo said.
Junior Yashaswee Malla agreed.
"It's like a time warp, [but] everything is very well organized and labeled."
For Galindo, it's a physical reminder of the music to which she typically listens. For Malla, it's a creative explanation of how records were once made.
"There are those that have been heavily involved in the music scene their whole life. There are others who like listening to the radio, but know nothing about the dynamic history of the county," said Chris Shuck, chair of the "Notes and Beats" committee. "Everyone gets something."
He hopes the exhibit will show DePauw students that music is a very important part of Putnam County's history. The "Famous Faces" wall, Shuck's favorite portion of the exhibit, showcases specific individuals from Putnam County who had a significant impact on the music industry.
"The exhibit sets itself apart from others because it includes the history of people that are still very involved in the community," Shuck said. "The stigma of any museum is that most of the information they provide has to do with the past. This works through our history and brings us right into the present."
Visit the Putnam County Museum:
DePauw students can visit the exhibit during the museum's operating hours:
- Monday closed
- Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Sunday closed