Museum focuses on NMU’s past


Culture and heritage of the Upper Peninsula, along with the richness of student life at Northern Michigan University, was on exhibit at the grand opening of the newly located Beaumier Heritage Center in Cohodas Hall.

The Heritage Center is a museum on campus featuring the new Student Life Exhibit, which details the experiences of NMU students through the years, along with local U.P. history and a variety of photographs.

Susan Koch, provost and vice president of academic affairs spoke at the opening of the center on Saturday night and stated the importance of having a place on campus that shows students the culture of the area.

“It allows us to embrace more fully the heritage of this region and this university,” Koch said.

The Student Life Exhibit was an idea that was created by the student museum assistants, said Museum Director Dan Truckey.

“The exhibit was really going to be their ideas, and they wanted to do something on student life at NMU and in part because our collection is really stuff from Northern,” Truckey said. “So they did the research, found the photos, scanned them, located the artifacts, designed the panels and layout and then installed it, and we also had help from the NMU constructors who built walls and did other fabrication work for us as well.”

The center was founded in 2004, with a donation from Dr. John Beaumier, and is dedicated to the culture and history of the U.P. It serves as the university museum as well as to set up displays on campus, in the Peter White Lounge, Glenn Seaborg Center and all along the interior of the Superior Dome. The museum participates in public programming such as the Upper Peninsula Folk Life Festival and the International Performing Arts Series.

Beaumier spoke at the grand opening and said that he was very grateful for his time and experiences at Northern.

“A girl came up to me after church one day and said, ‘I want to thank you for what you’ve done for Northern,’ and I said ‘Northern has done a lot more for me’,” he said.

Truckey praised the Heritage Center as a very important aspect for the Northern community.

“[It] helps educate students about the history of the U.P. and the ethnic cultures that live here so they have a better appreciation for the region,” he said. “Students get experience working in a museum environment; it gives them a practical opportunity to do work like that for an institution which is a little different than doing it as a class project.”

Kim Denton, a sophomore majoring in graphic communications who attended the grand opening, was very impressed with the exhibits and what the Center had to offer.

“The Heritage Center and the Student Life Exhibit really blew me away. It was amazing to see the differences and similarities between how student life is now and how it was many years ago,” Denton said. “All of the old photographs were really interesting. They added a lot and helped me to understand so much history about the Upper Peninsula.”

Elizabeth Hopp, a senior majoring in marketing who helped construct the Student Life Exhibit, said that it was a very hard job to get everything together for the exhibit.

“I learned that creating a new exhibit is a very complicated process, and it is sometimes hard to find the information you are looking for. I also learned a lot about Northern,” Hopp said.

The Heritage Center is a great place for people to learn more about the U.P., said Christine Flavin, assistant professor of the school of art and design who did a photography exhibit for the Center.

“It’s a terrific place, and I think its mission to display the cultural and immigrant heritage and the rich history of the U.P. is a very important one to have as part of the university,” she said. “Anyone interested in the history of the U.P., I think, would find it a wonderful resource.”

The photography project Flavin submitted had been a culmination of two years worth of photographing abandoned mining sites throughout the U.P. while using hand built cameras.

“There’s a huge historic reference made by the process. I also like the visual aspect, of looking in a circular image that sort of floats, so you’re looking down a tunnel of time,” Flavin said in reference to some of the images she submitted using a zone plate camera.

Denton said she particularly enjoyed viewing old pictures from Northern and the U.P. and comparing it to life today.

“My favorite part of the Student Life Exhibit was looking at the old pictures of Northern’s campus. It was cool to see how it has changed,” Denton said. “I also loved all of the old clothing and uniforms.”

Denton advises students to visit the museum and see all it has to offer because of how fascinating and informative it is.

“I really hope that students go to check the museum out. There are so many interesting facts scattered throughout it, and they can learn so much,” Denton said.