Changing Places: From Black and White to Technicolor®
Charlotte today stands at a critical juncture in U.S. history. The South – historically one the United States' most isolated regions – has become a magnet for newcomers from across the U.S. and around the globe. People are arriving daily from New York, Ohio, Mexico, El Salvador, Vietnam, Bosnia, Somalia and hundreds of other places. African Americans are returning to the South in record numbers. In 1990, Mecklenburg County had 500,000 residents. By 2010, it held more than a million. Future historians may well look to Charlotte as the national bellwether for how the United States addresses issues of growth and community in the early 21st century. The cultural challenges are great. Newcomers bring their own traditions, habits and assumptions – their own cultures. The combination of old and new enriches a city, but also creates tensions.
The Museum's most ambitious project to date, the heart of it was an exhibit titled Changing Places: From Black and White to Technicolor,® that focused on culture, telling stories and exploring traditions of both new and longtime residents. Within the exhibit, visitors experienced an exciting new technology, known as "video-talkback." Visitors can record their responses to questions and the exhibit's themes, and those responses were part of the exhibit. The exhibit has become an ongoing and ever-changing conversation – newcomers and longtime residents all trading stories and perspectives.
The exhibit was organized into 5 main environments, each one addressing a different theme. In "What do I keep, what do I change?" guests discovered how people are adapting, maintaining, modifying cultural traditions. The section "What did you say?" explored the many communication barriers, with interactives demonstrating the challenges beyond language. In "Selling a taste of home" visitors learned about the long history of entrepreneurism in our region and the cultural influences in goods and stores now found here. The section "Getting past us and them" asked visitors to consider stereotypes, with videos sharing personal stories from students. The final section, titled "Working together" presented different stories of how people are bridging cultural differences.
In the center of the exhibit space, a park-like setting included benches, a break dance area, hopscotch, a community bulletin board and a picnic table with "recipes for conversation" inviting visitors to come together and share stories with each other.
Developed by Levine Museum of the New South, the exhibit team was comprised of: curator Dr. Pamela Grundy, assistant curator Dr. Tom Hanchett, nationally renowned exhibit developer Darcie Fohrman, who worked with the Museum on Courage, and multimedia developer Brad Larson, who is recognized internationally as one of the top developers of multimedia for family audiences. Other contributors include: film production company Emulsion Arts, photographer Nancy Pierce, exhibit production house Studio Displays, documentary film producer WTVI, and language advisors Choice Translating.