Smithsonian exhibit coming to the sanctuary

ALPENA – The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Heritage Center will be hosting a Smithsonian exhibition titled “Journey Stories” from June 1 through July 26. This exhibit shows the ways our nation’s mobility evolved and how transportation has fostered its growth. The accounts featured from travelers express the hopes of fresh starts, the grim realities of forced migrations, individual difficult journeys, and the thrills of traveling.

The story is focused mainly on immigration, migration, innovation, and the freedoms associated with travel. Family and individual accounts of immigrants, fortune hunters, homesteaders, employment seekers, Africans and Native Americans forced to move, and the dangers and fun on the open road are featured.

Many of the links between transportation and American society are complex and express the connection between the need for mobility and our personal freedom. The exhibition shows a patchwork of stories displayed in photos and documents to portray the evolution of the United States in transportation from covered wagons to being one of the most mobile countries in the world.

“The sanctuary will have a volunteer docent in the exhibit at all times,” Stephanie Gandulla, media and outreach coordinator, said. “The exhibition will also have an iPad for people to tell their own ‘Journey stories’ and upload them to the Smithsonian website.”

This exhibit is made possible by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, which requires students from the high school to work with personnel and gather oral history stories from around the area.

“We’re very excited to be able to bring this exhibit to Alpena,” Gandulla said. “We were lucky to get one of the grants to bring this nation-wide traveling Smithsonian exhibition to the sanctuary.”

Complimentary exhibits will take place during the traveling exhibit days around town including one at Besser Museum , featuring a “Journey to the Moon” film showing in the Planetarium every Thursday in June at 7 p.m., with the price included in regular admission.

Alpena County Public Library will highlight “Alpena Stories” during the exhibit, emphasizing the early timber and maritime industries in Alpena, which brought thousands of early immigrants to northeast Michigan. Lectures will be given on the journeys of French Canadians, Norwegians, and many other immigrants that came to the shores of Thunder Bay.

Art in the Loft is encouraging people to design a creative postcard to send to family members and friends, based on their history, on the third floor in the Center Building.

The Sanctuary will be hosting different programs, starting with the exhibit opening reception on June 1, at 2 p.m., with a lecture afterward by Anna Pegler-Gordon, Michigan State University professor.

There will be a childrens program on June 13, at 10 a.m., and a youth program on June 20 at 10 a.m. All day on July 4, Genot Picor, storyteller and musician, will be at the sanctuary performing for everyone. On July 11, at 3:30 p.m. Maritime historian C. Patrick Labadie will be lecturing, and on July 18, at 3:30 p.m. Dr. John Jenson, maritime historian will be speaking.

“Journey Stories” is a part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

For more information, visit or call 356-8805.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.