Friday, March 02, 2012

UIS graduate student to guest curate major exhibit at Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

Claire Jerry, a graduate history major at the University of Illinois Springfield will be the guest curator for a major exhibit opening March 9, 2012 at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo. The exhibit is part of her graduate closure project.

“I am extremely excited to have had this experience,” said Jerry. “I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from nationally recognized conservators, curators, mount makers, exhibit specialists, and archivists.”

The exhibit, “Tracing the Trumans: An American Story” focuses on two famous families--The Trumans and the Wallaces. Drawing upon the Library's rich collection of correspondence and memorabilia from the two families and displaying, for the first time, newly released materials from Bess Truman and Margaret Truman Daniel, the exhibition traces the families over their more than 150 years in the Independence area.

“Claire has managed a major professional exhibition that probably will be reviewed in national publications,” said William Siles, her project adviser and UIS associate professor of History. “This project reflects the talent of our students and the strength of preparation students receive from our history faculty at UIS.”

Jerry has always wanted to work for a presidential museum and got that chance in the summer of 2010 when she landed an internship at the Truman Library and Museum. She returned this past summer as a volunteer and given the opportunity to help plan the temporary exhibit.

“I was here full time in June and July, part time September through December, and have been here full time since early January,” said Jerry. “I will have worked somewhere between 800 and 1000 hours on the exhibit by the time my work is completed.”

As a guest curator, she was responsible for selecting objects and documents for the exhibit. She researched the family and objects histories using documents in the library archives, developed the narrative themes of the exhibit, and wrote the initial drafts for text panels and labels.

“I have participated in the decisions regarding graphic identity, gallery layout, case design, video supplements, and educational interactives,” said Jerry. “I have been instrumental in developing a touchscreen interactive program featuring Truman family photographs.”

Jerry worked under the supervision of Truman staff and was guided by their professional standards. The Jacksonville, Ill. resident will use the exhibit as her final project, allowing her to soon graduate from UIS with a master’s degree in history.

“The Truman staff knew that Claire had the knowledge, preparation and judgment to put this exhibition together, and she did,” said Siles.

As part of the museum's regular monthly feature "Talkin' Truman," Jerry will be presenting a talk on Saturday, March 10, called "Tracing the Trumans: The Making of an Exhibit.”

The temporary exhibition, “Tracing the Trumans: An American Story” will be on display at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum from March 9 through December 31, 2012. Several objects from the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, including a double barreled shotgun which belonged to President Truman's mother will be on display. Learn more about the exhibition online, at