Hosting a Postcard Exhibit at Your Local History Museum

Concept Overview

Hosting a postcard exhibit at your local history museum is an enriching way to delve into the community’s past and present. Such an exhibit not only showcases beautiful imagery but also captures the essence of communication and travel throughout different eras. This initiative can foster community engagement, celebrate local history, and provide educational opportunities for visitors of all ages.

Sourcing Postcards from the Community

To create a diverse and comprehensive exhibit, sourcing postcards from the local community is essential. Here are some steps to gather these valuable artifacts:

  1. Community Outreach:
    • Call for Submissions: Announce a call for postcard submissions through local newspapers, radio stations, social media, and your museum’s newsletter.
    • Local Libraries and Schools: Partner with local libraries and schools to reach a broader audience. Encourage students and patrons to contribute postcards from their family collections.
    • Historical Societies and Collectors: Reach out to historical societies and local collectors who may have extensive postcard collections.
    • Local Businesses: Collaborate with local businesses that have been part of the community for decades; they might possess vintage postcards depicting their establishments.
  2. Submission Guidelines:
    • Clearly outline submission guidelines, including how to submit (in-person or digitally), the types of postcards sought, and any relevant dates or deadlines.
    • Ensure contributors provide contextual information about each postcard, such as the date, location, and any personal stories associated with it.

Displaying the Postcards

Creating visually appealing and informative displays is key to engaging visitors. Here are some display strategies:

  1. Chronological Arrangement:
    • Organize postcards chronologically to illustrate the evolution of the community over time.
    • Use timelines and maps to contextualize postcards within specific historical periods.
  2. Thematic Sections:
    • Create themed sections, such as “Downtown Through the Decades,” “Landmarks and Landscapes,” and “Everyday Life.”
    • Include interactive elements like magnifying glasses or digital screens where visitors can zoom in on details.
  3. Interactive Displays:
    • Set up touchscreen kiosks with digital versions of postcards that visitors can browse, enlarge, and read associated stories.
    • Use augmented reality (AR) to overlay historical postcards onto current views of the same locations.
  4. Personal Stories:
    • Highlight personal stories and anecdotes shared by postcard contributors. These narratives add a human element and deepen the connection to the postcards.
  5. Artistic Displays:
    • Use creative methods to mount postcards, such as shadow boxes, rotating displays, or suspended installations.
    • Incorporate antique furniture or period-appropriate decor to enhance the historical ambiance.

Promoting the Event

Effective promotion is crucial for attracting visitors. Here are some promotional tactics:

  1. Social Media Campaign:
    • Launch a comprehensive social media campaign using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Share teaser images, behind-the-scenes content, and contributor stories.
    • Create a unique hashtag for the exhibit to encourage community sharing and engagement.
  2. Press Releases:
    • Send press releases to local newspapers, magazines, and online publications. Highlight the exhibit’s significance and unique features.
  3. Community Partnerships:
    • Partner with local businesses, schools, and community organizations to spread the word. Offer special preview nights or discounts for affiliated groups.
  4. Events and Workshops:
    • Host related events, such as postcard-making workshops, lectures on local history, and guided tours of the exhibit.
    • Organize a grand opening event with refreshments, guest speakers, and live music.

Curating the Exhibit for Online Access

Extending the exhibit’s reach through an online platform ensures ongoing accessibility and engagement. Here’s how to curate it digitally:

  1. Virtual Exhibit:
    • Develop a virtual tour of the exhibit, complete with high-resolution images of each postcard and detailed descriptions.
    • Use 360-degree photography or video to create an immersive experience.
  2. Digital Archive:
    • Create an online archive where visitors can search and browse postcards by date, theme, or contributor.
    • Include interactive elements like clickable maps and timelines.
  3. Contributor Stories:
    • Publish the personal stories and anecdotes shared by postcard contributors, alongside the digital images of their postcards.
  4. Educational Resources:
    • Provide educational materials, such as lesson plans, discussion questions, and activity sheets for teachers and parents.
  5. Engagement Features:
    • Incorporate features that allow users to comment, share their own stories, and participate in online discussions.
    • Regularly update the online exhibit with new submissions and additional content.

By hosting a postcard exhibit, you not only celebrate the rich history of your community but also create an engaging and educational experience for visitors. The blend of physical and digital curation ensures that the legacy of these postcards endures, reaching both local and global audiences.


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dabodab is a blog about various things DiY and the creative people and activities surrounding them. I am Briyan Frederick (aka Bryan Baker), probably best known as the publisher of GAJOOB and a founder of Tapegerm Collective read more.

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i was trying to present it as layers of skin being peeled away to get to the next section, with the glockenspiel over bryan’s piano loop, which was like the true inner self. and i kept thinking about michael jackson throughout the whole process.Jack Shite