DARKE COUNTY – The Garst Museum celebrated its newest addition exhibit on Sunday, which focuses on the rich history and development of Darke County’s towns and villages.
The exhibit, titled “Pathway to the Present: The Towns and Villages of Darke County,” officially opened as part of Garst Museum’s annual Christmas Open House, and centers on the growth of Darke County’s urban areas from 1850 to 1930.
Specifically, the exhibit encompasses Darke County’s history beginning with the signing of the Treaty of Greenville and ending in the contemporary period, where advancements in agriculture, commerce, industry, and transportation made this a period of intense growth for the area.
The exhibit itself begins directly after the Annie Oakley exhibit, as the ramp leading down invites museum attendees to view the historical account and timeline of Darke County’s development. The physical exhibit area was previously occupied by the National Horseshoe Hall of Fame.
“I think there’s been a remarkable transformation in this room,” said Clay Johnson, Ph.D., Garst Museum Director.
To complete the project, The Darke County Historical Society partnered with the Wright State University Public History Program, as Garst Museum intern and Public History student Jason Swiatkowski dedicated more than 300 hours developing the exhibit.
“Hopefully thousands of people passing through the Garst Museum will enjoy it for a long time in the future,” said Swiatkowski.
During the construction of the exhibit, Swiatkowski individually visited many of the researched areas in order to gain a more full understanding of the county.
“This display will interpret and illustrate the development of the county from an undeveloped wilderness to a settled and vibrant rural community,” said Swiatkowski a press release. “It will explore some areas in the county that are less well known during a time period people may not have thought about.”
Swiatkowski has been researching and planning the exhibit since early summer, however the planning for the project began two years ago.
Support for the exhibit was provided by the Lydia E. Schaurer Memorial Trust, the Amie McClurkin Community Grant, the Coppock- Hole Trust, Kay Brown, the Nealeigh Design Group, and the Darke Rural Electric Trust.
“Without the generosity of these people, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” said Clay Johnson, Ph.D., Garst Museum Director
Sunday’s festivities also included holiday decorations provided by local garden clubs and the museum’s collection, as well as seasonal music, light refreshments and the 3rd annual wreath auction.