GREENVILLE — Garst Museum now has a new exhibit that adds to one of the many galleries offered there…the Annie Oakley Room.
Making the exhibit possible is Dustin “Dusty” Nealeigh, owner of Nealeigh Design Group both here and in Cincinnati.
Nealeigh, who resides in Greenville with his family, said his custom design studio integrates the best practices in design, fabrication and construction to create visually stunning installations. The group specializes in museum, educational and tradeshow exhibits, signs, banners, murals and vehicle advertising.
Notable projects of Nealeigh’s include Garst Museum and The Palace and Merchant House in Historic Downtown Greenville.
He has been responsible for the design and completion of more than 75 museum exhibits in 12 galleries.
“This exhibit is a tease to get people to go inside and see her [Oakley’s] galleries,” Nealeigh said.
He estimates he put 100 hours in on the project, doing the main work at his studio and transporting it in sections to the museum.
“The large format print is the most significant,” said Nealeigh, who indicated he received some help from some of the museum volunteers on the wordage to use for it. “I did the graphics too after I got the exhibit in here.”
Donors making the exhibit possible are Shirla and Dennis Neff, The Annie Oakley Center Foundation, 2016 Annie’s Star Spangled Gala donors and the Darke County Historical Society’s annual fund.
Dr. Clay Johnson, director of the museum, is responsible for the video that has been placed in the exhibit.
When describing what was on the video at the time of this interview, he said that the Annie Oakley Center Foundation donors were discussing their connection with the artifacts in the museum.
“Those videos will change over time,” he said.
He also noted that people from across the country have been donating more items to the Annie Oakley exhibit to the museum. Just recently, a husband and wife from Texas brought in a photo they had purchased at an auction there.
“We get so many visitors within and we wanted to use this exhibit as a promotion as to why we have a National Annie Oakley Center,” Johnson said. “This is a good way of promoting it. It is a bookmark with the Douglas Dickey Exhibit on the other side of the room. It completes this room [Lowell Thomas Meeting Room].”
Johnson said that exhibit cases could be placed in front of the exhibit to also promote Annie Oakley if needed.
The exhibit is dubbed: “The National Annie Oakley Center at Garst: A Legend in Her Own Time.”
On one section of the graphics, it reads: “Darke County’s most distinguished daughter hunted and trapped in the fields around her birthplace in northern Darke County. As a young girl, Annie became a market hunter and helped support her family. Overcoming her childhood challenges with determination and character helped her develop a vitality and freshness that would stand for American womanhood. Annie was a trailblazer for women in the Victorian Age.”
Another section reads: “After marrying professional shooter Frank Butler, Annie joined him in show business. They had a loving relationship for 50 years. Annie’s shooting skills soon became legendary as they toured the United States and Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. They left Buffalo Bill’s show after 17 years but continued to give exhibitions and enter shooting competitions. Frank served as her manager and their beloved dog, Dave, was part of the show. Learn more about Annie, her artifacts, examples of her winning personality and the motto she lived by in the National Annie Oakley Center at Garst.”
Johnson said that Nancy Stump and Marilyn Robbins as well as the National Annie Oakley Center were instrumental in making this exhibit happen.
He also noted that the Travel Channel had included Garst Museum in a documentary last fall.
“It was Season 12 and Episode 5,” he said. “For now, you can only get it on Amazon and that costs $3. It’s eight minutes long. After some people saw that from out of state last year, they came here to the museum. People can come in here and watch the video.”