Fillmore County History Center

by Debra J. Richardson, Executive Director, Fillmore County History Center, Fountain, Minnesota

Following completion of a recent construction project, our museum gained additional exhibit space.  It seemed the perfect opportunity for us to update exhibit bay backgrounds.

Our museum holds thousands of photographic images, the majority of which are archived at our facility and therefore unseen by the average visitor. With this in mind, I determined that our new exhibit displays would bring some of these hidden gems out to public view. My initial thought was to scan original photographs from our collection, and have prints reproduced and framed to display in gallery fashion. However, to achieve the “wow” factor that I aimed for I needed images larger than a standard 8 x 10, or even 11 x 14, enlargement. Additionally, I wanted to avoid the complication and expense of having to custom frame large prints. I began to think in terms of mural-type photographs and searched the Internet for a local vendor capable of producing images to our specifications.

Much to my delight, search results pointed me to the Fostergraphs website. Having lived in northeast Iowa some years back, I was familiar with Kent Foster’s renowned photography.  I was pleased to find that his business had expanded into a lab service capable of printing the graphics of my dreams! I contacted Kent about two specific ideas: 1.  A wall-sized graphic created from several photographs with accompanying text.  2.  A series of smaller graphics to mount above one of our display cases that could be easily changed from time to time, thus adding a fresh “face” to the exhibit.

Kent suggested Sticky Critters — fabric prints coated with an adhesive backing. He brought several samples for our board of directors to select from.  Once we chose the material and discussed sizes, I provided him with scanned images.  With expertise he digitally manipulated the images to perfection, and precisely sized them to fit our spaces. From a creative standpoint the final results went beyond what we could have imagined. From a practical standpoint, the graphics were made of exceptionally high quality material and incredibly simple to install.

Only a few days after installation I noticed a group of museum visitors gathered around the graphic series oohing and ahhing at the photographs. We anticipate working further with Kent on other graphic needs for our museum and look forward to lots more oohing and ahhing in the future! Thanks, Kent, for helping us to take our museum exhibits to the next level.