Museum to upgrade video kiosks

Published 6:26 pm Monday, January 13, 2014

Local history buffs will soon get a chance to see more of the region’s history spring into motion, as the Dowagiac Area History Museum plans to upgrade its video kiosk equipment over the next several months.

The museum plans to add new footage to its current video collection, featuring clips of famed local natives for visitors to view. In addition, the Pokagon Band will build a new kiosk that will give viewers an in-depth look at the culture of the Potawatomi tribe that inhabited the area hundreds of years ago.

The museum has working on upgrading its existing kiosk for sometime, receiving $4,500 in grant money from the Pokagon Fund last fall in order to pay for the improvements.

The facility’s current equipment dates back to around 2004, when the collections were still housed at Southwestern Michigan College. The kiosk features a number of clips of Iven Kincheloe’s famous piloting career, including an interview by Walter Cronkite, which visitors can access using a touchscreen computer.

“Touchscreen equipment has advanced by leaps and bounds since then, so it really was time for an upgrade,” said Museum Director Steve Arseneau.

Arseneau said he is presently working with a video producer in South Bend to compile new video clips to accompany the enhanced hardware, for a new exhibit entitled “Small Town, Big World: Locals Who Made History.” The museum will add old TV commercials for Edward Lowe’s Kitty Litter product, as well as footage of Olympic wrestler Chris Taylor that was provided by his family.

“The Taylor stuff is going to be real popular,” Arseneau said. “The current exhibit we have gets a ton of positive feedback.”

The director said that the new kiosk should be completed sometime in February. The Potawatomi kiosk is expected to be finished a few months later, in spring, though the Pokagon Band will be donating an interim video exhibit as early as next week, Arseneau said.

The new multimedia displays should provide for a richer museum experience for visitors, the director added.

“Sometimes, you can look at the artifacts and read the story, but you can’t always get a sense of how big people’s accomplishments are,” Arseneau said. “These videos will help with that.”

Arseneau said he has been working for months to make the new kiosks a reality, and was elated when the Pokagon Band threw their support behind the effort.

“I’m thankful that the Pokagon Fund gave us the money for this project,” he said. “Without them, it wouldn’t have been possible to set this up.”