Exhibit shines new light on the village

Series: Hinsdale 150 | Story 16

"Hinsdale in Lights," a new exhibit opening next week at Immanuel Hall, will give visitors a unique opportunity to view and experience 150 years of village history.

Hinsdale Historical Society board member Alexis Braden, who created the exhibit with society manager Katharine Andrew and Matt Stockmal, hired as the creative and technical director, said her vision initially was for a two-dimensional exhibit with photos and a timeline that broke the village's history down in 25-year increments.

"I had many sleepless nights thinking about how I was trying to bring this to life," Braden said. "When they came to us and presented this idea of really bringing it to life in lights, it really was a game changer."

Visitors will have the opportunity to view traditional exhibit items - like an 1885 wedding dress worn by village founder William Robbins' daughter, a Hinsdale Central letterman jacket from the early 1900s and a bridesmaid dress sewn by society volunteer Janet Miller in 1971 - and an immersive light show.

"It's very unique and it's something that I'm personally and professionally very proud of our society for being able to do," Andrew said.

She obtained permission from My Heritage to use the company's photo restoration and animation software to create the sideshow.

"You get a photo of someone from 1893, who's never captured on video, and you can make them smile and move around and blink as if they're alive," she said. "It's a big deal that My Heritage has given a historical society permission to utilize the technology."

Stockmal said working on the project has fulfilled a desire he's had for many years.

"It's always been my dream, honestly - because I've been a volunteer here for many years - after I graduated from college to come back here and do something like this," he said.

The light show features every piece of paper that is part of the exhibit in a new and exciting way.

"For every decade it's going to change," Stockmal said. "It's really quite cool."

"Hinsdale in Lights" is an exciting example of how a traditional museum exhibit and new technology can be combined, Andrew said.

"I think it's an amazing testament to what we can do in museums and with history," she said.

Braden encouraged residents to attend the exhibit's premiere from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 20, Braden said. Tickets are $60 a person and include drinks and light bites.

The exhibit will be open for general admission from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday, April 21-23. See Page 32 for more details.

If interest warrants and Immanuel Hall is available, the three would love to see exhibit dates extended.

"I want everyone to find something that they resonate with," Braden said.

"I really hope people come," she added.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean