It isnâ€™t every day that the Arts Center gets overrun by bloodthirsty hordes of tiny children. Well, lately it has been, thanks to Wild West (don’t be fooled; Brandon is only telling a story to try and calm the kiddoes’ blood-lust. He’s our very own Sheherezad).The exhibit, as our blockbuster for this year, has drawn school groups from all over the Commonwealth, and for good reason: this yearâ€™s exhibit is definitely one of our best. Today marks our unofficial half-way point with the exhibit and my feelings on Wild West are certainly mixed.
On the one hand, Iâ€™m glad weâ€™re on our way to finishing this exhibit. We usually have multiple field trips on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and if they get here at 9 AM, we have to be here extra early to prepare for their arrival. The kids are noisy and rambunctious, they often leave a mess behind that we have to clean up, and theyâ€™re the reason my office door has been closed most of this month; itâ€™s nigh impossible to concentrate with a gaggle of kids outside your door whose talking, yelling, screaming, and laughing reverberate off of EVERYTHING. Iâ€™ve also been trying to dress semi-cowboy on the days we have visitorsâ€”West T. Hill Community Theater was nice enough to loan me an absolutely beautiful Annie Oakley costume that I like to show to the kids. It was fun the first week, even the second. Halfway through week five, Iâ€™m kind of ready to go back to my normal work wardrobe.
All of that being said, Iâ€™m exceedingly proud of what weâ€™ve accomplished with this exhibit. Yesterday, as I was typing away I heard loud â€œwhoaâ€s and â€œwowâ€s as kids explored our upstairs rooms, which have Native American art and objects, a Buffalo Soldiers display, and interactive activities like grinding corn, making Native American basket designs, and weaving on a loom (yes, these little cowpokes are cute, but don’t let them fool you. That one has a giant rock in his hands, and the others have an up-to-no-good look in their eyes. I don’t trust them). The sound of kids’ wonder and amazement is music to all the Arts Center staff’s ears, reminding us why we go through the meat-grinder that is blockbuster every single year. And it truly is a meat-grinderâ€”heck, weâ€™re already trying to plan NEXT yearâ€™s exhibit and we havenâ€™t even finished this one! Visitors who walk in and enjoy our frontier town or pan for gold may not understand, but blockbuster is a year-long process and an exhausting one at that. So if you havenâ€™t already, stop in and see Wild West–itâ€™s a symbol of every single staff memberâ€™s passion and dedication to the Arts Center and its mission.
Of course, I can talk about how great Wild West is until I’m blue in the face, and it won’t really matter unless the children and families who visit agree with me. We found one such endorsement on one of thePony Express postcards in our Post Office during the opening weeks of the exhibit. In the words of PBS host-turned-Star Trek character Lavar Burton, â€œYou donâ€™t have to take my word for it.â€