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Loudoun Museum Plans New Exhibits

With the gift shop next door and a few remodeling changes completed, the Loudoun Museum has the space for a main exhibit and several smaller exhibits to chronologically tell the county’s history.

The main exhibit, which will be completed by the end of this month, will use artifacts and text to tell the early history of Loudoun County from the Aboriginals to the start of the Antebellum period in the 1830s. Native American artifacts and artifacts from the county’s settlement in the early 18th century, including Colonial period furniture, the first plan of Leesburg and papers of George Washington, will be on display.

“That’s going to make all the rest of the exhibits make sense, what comes before,” said Mark Summers, director of education.

THE SMALLER EXHIBITS will follow to tell the county’s history in the 19th and 20th century. Museum staff will rotate these exhibits every few months to a year and keep the main exhibit to the same theme, only changing a few of the artifacts.

“Until we get our new building, we won’t have any permanent exhibits. We’ll keep changing what we have,” said Doug Foard, museum director.

An exhibit that is located one room over currently displays textiles from the 19th century. The exhibit, which is nearly completed for a March grand opening for Women’s History Month, contains several sewing implements and products made in Loudoun County. Seven samplers, which young girls used to learn how to sew, and four quilts, are hanging in glass frames on the walls. “We have so many of these, we will rotate them,” Foard said.

“Once you see the detail, people will be interested in how talented the women were who made the artifacts,” said Christie Hubner, collections manager. “Aesthetically, it pulls you in because of the colors and patterns.”

Museum emeritus Betty Flemming will help museum staff develop interpretations for each of the artifacts. She may use a gallery-style take-home sheet with explanations of the items on display.

THE NEXT ROOM will have an exhibit on Loudoun and the Gettysburg Campaign, which will open in May 2003. In the hallway, there will be an exhibit on the county’s economic history, opening as early as next spring or in the summer. The exhibit will compare Loudoun’s development from 250 years ago to development today, using maps, charts, graphs and artifacts. For instance, in the 1740s, Kittoctin, an earlier spelling for Catoctin, was one of the first tracts of land that was subdivided in the county. On the opposite side of the hallway will be a brochure from 1962 showing Sterling Park, one of the first modern suburbs in the county.

“It’s a modern political issue that divides Loudoun,” Summers said. “What a museum can’t do is take sides, but what we can do is [help] people understand that this growth and development going on in Loudoun County really isn’t new. It started in the 1700s.”