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Setting the Stage for Robert F. Kennedy

In order to recreate the speech that Robert Kennedy gave in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968 for the upcoming You Are There experience at the History Center, the exhibits team not only brings to life the stories of that night through the interpreters, films, graphic panels and computer interactives, but they also must recreate the physical space in which the speech occurred. To do this, Jeff Mills, director of exhibits design and production, began by developing schematics that combine all the elements required for this particular You Are There. This includes not only a King/Kennedy Legacy Room where visitors will learn the context of that night, but a literal recreation of the park itself.

RFK truckIn order to put our Robert Kennedy speech in its physical context (look for future updates on that exciting technology!), Exhibits Fabricator Roger Fish set to work locating a truck that could be used to replicate the one on which Kennedy stood that night. After an extensive search, he found an appropriate truck through an equipment dealer based in Bloomington. He then had the truck delivered to a place suitable for the prep work required to fit the truck into the gallery layout, namely, the truck had to be cut in half.

IHS member Sarah Rector generously allowed us to use her pole barn to dismantle the truck into several pieces, and then reassemble it as a half of a flatbed truck. It might sound like an easy thing, to saw a truck in half, but it is hardly that simple. The truck had to be dismantled piece by piece in order to prevent it from falling in on itself. Roger and Exhibits Graphics Coordinator Martin Douglas stripped the truck down to its bare frame, cut the center out of the frame, then reattached the frame pieces to a 50-percent dimension of the original truck. As Roger says about this project, “It was a lot of fun!”

There are a lot of bells and whistles that will no doubt leave an impression for visitors to the You Are There 1968: Robert F. Kennedy Speaks experience, opening in February 2011, but the exhibits department encourages visitors to look closely at the details. Everything that goes into a You Are There experience is its own unique project, and sometimes we make it look easy when it was anything but!  

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Comments (1)

1. Frank says

March 23, 2011 at 9:47 p.m.
I was just wondering if the Kennedy Family or the RFK Foundation was enlisted at all to assist with the project. Great potential for grants and teacher education and curriculum. Also, I guess I am wondering if their is any teacher curriculum affiliated with the exhibit.