HamilStorian Project combines Hamilton history with storytelling, art

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

The Robert McCloskey Museum and Inspiration Studios have partnered for the past few months on a project that shares the history of Hamilton with the next generation.

The two organizations received grant funding late last year to create the HamilStorian Project, a collaborative effort to incorporate and employ the skills and talents of the artists with disabilities at Inspiration Studios to create exhibits and art experiences for Hamilton’s youth.

Carrie Halim, curator and storyteller at The Robert McCloskey Museum at Heritage Hall on High Street, said the project started as a conversation with Stephen Smith at Inspiration Studios. He had come up with the idea to incorporate the artists’ work and storytelling, she said.

That was an easy yes for Halim, who admits, “I love history and I love stories.”

In the first program in March, the HamilStorian Project focused on “Journey Cake Ho” by Ruth Sawyer and Robert McCloskey, and in April they worked on a project related to Fred Mueller, the architect of the former Hamilton Municipal Building at 20 High St., and how a then 19-year-old McCloskey did work on the building.

This month’s event — which is set for Saturday (signups run through today or until space runs out) — features one of McCloskey’s more famous characters, Homer Price, and is about jukeboxes and the Doughnut Boogie based, which is inspired by McCloskey’s work. Halim, with the help of some kids and Third Street Music, recorded the Doughnut Boogie, hoping it would be an earworm for the kid and parent participants on Saturday.

They’ll also have doughnuts from Kelly’s Bakery, and the kids will get to decorate and eat doughnuts and create paint-splattered record mobiles.

“We tried to pull into some of those STEAM skills as well, and we’re trying incorporating different aspects of McCloskey’s work,” she said.

Everything created with the HamilStorian Program eventually becomes exhibits or displays in the McCloskey Museum, said Stephen Smith with Inspiration Studios. The artists are building a three-dimensional jukebox display designed from the one in the Homer Price books.

The Fitton Family Foundation grant allowed artists at Inspiration Studios to be paid an hourly wage to not only create the art but also to be teachers with Halim and Smith for the children and parents participating in the HamilStorian programming.

Programming does provide STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) lessons.

“What I like to do is come up with a loose plan in how we’re going to make it, and the kids do a lot of the decision-making of what goes where and which pieces connect,” Smith said. “It’s more like a trial and error ... and it’s an art experience with a little bit of learning on the side.”

To sign up for Saturday’s event, visit the McCloskey Wonder Works Museum Facebook page or visit tinyurl.com/McCloskey-Jukebox.

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