Eptek going back to 1864 in latest exhibit

Colin MacLean
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The Eptek Arts and Culture Centre is getting into the 2014 swing of things by going back to 1864. The centre launched its newest exhibit Tuesday, titled “1864: The Year we Celebrate.” Open until the middle of August, exhibit tours are being offered by summer students dressed in period clothing. Some of those students are, from left, Charlotte Thompson, Ellen Arsenault and Amy Gerus. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE – From start to finish it takes Charlotte Thompson about 10 minutes every morning to put on her dress.

Every layer, frill and hoop of it.

The hardest part is actually the broach at her neck, said Thompson.

“It’s not too bad actually. I’ve kind of gotten used to it,” she said.

Thompson is one of five students working at the Eptek Arts and Cultural Centre this summer giving tours of its latest exhibit: “1864: The Year we Celebrate.”

As part of the work the students are donning period dress to give tours of the diverse range of artifacts on display.

Eptek curator Paula Kenny said Tuesday during the exhibit’s launch that the old dress, men and women, is always a hit with the crowds.

“It’s an absolute instant hit. It sets the scene … it’s an approachable kind of history interpretation,” said Kenny.

The clothes were purchased with a grant from the P.E.I. 2014 fund and designed by A.B. White.

The exhibit itself features dozens of historical artifacts, works of art and informative panels.

Boyde Beck, curator of history and exhibits for the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation, said that rather than focusing on one subject, they chose to give Islanders a scattergun approach to what the world was like in 1864.

The exhibit includes all kinds of information, he said, everything from examples of what kind of underwear people wore to displays of armaments from the local militia units at the time. World events the economic and political climate in Europe is also discussed.

“If you have even a fraction of the intellectual satisfaction exploring this exhibit that I did putting it together it was worth it,” he said.

The exhibit will remain in place until Oct. 10.

Beck encouraged Islanders to take in the exhibit while they can as many of the items are seldom put on display.

Choosing which items to bring to the public can be a challenge, remarked Beck, given how seldom some of these artifacts see the light of day.

“The temptation is to pack it floor to ceiling like Wallmart,” he said.

But there are certain items that jump out at curators as being particularly poignant for an exhibit, he said, and that’s what he tried to do for “1864: The Year we Celebrate.”

P.E.I. has had an incredible year so far celebrating the 1864 Charlottetown Conference that led to confederation, he added, and this exhibit continues that.

“Whenever we get to focus on one aspect of history for a whole year – it’s something special.”

The Eptek Art & Culture Centre’s summer hours are Monday to Saturday; 9 to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Colin.MacLean@JournalPioneer.com

@JournalPMacLean

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