What if they re-opened a museum and nobody came?
That was the fear of NELA residents Ginger Mayerson and Nancy Lilly after the Southwest Museum--which was closed for exhibitions in 2009--re-opened to the public on May 19. The museum is only open on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The Importance of Documenting Visits
but in general, there has been very little fanfare. The Autry hasn’t publicized the re-opening at all. As a result, Mayerson said that she and Lilly were concerned that, “…if people don’t go up [to the museum], the Autry could make the argument that the community isn’t interested. We can’t let that happen to our museum.”
The Southwest Museum Photography Project
To mobilize and inspire potential visitors, Renaissance woman Mayerson--a writer, photographer, collage artist, composer and publisher--started the Southwest Museum Photography Project. Visitors to the museum are encouraged to take photos and send their favorites to Mayerson at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to their site and/or more photos of the Southwest Museum.
Mayerson will post the photos on the SWMPP site. When 50-60 photos are submitted, Mayerson hopes to publish a book through Wapshott Press, of which she is editor and founder.
In addition to being an artistic tribute to the museum, Mayerson feels that it’s important to document the public’s interest because “If there is photo after photo and date after date, it’s proof that people are going up there.”
Response to the Southwest Museum Photography Project has been sparse so far, but Mayerson is hoping that’s because the word hasn’t gotten out to the community. “I know our community loves the Southwest Museum.”
Mayerson, who moved to Lincoln Heights in 1987, has fond memories of the museum. “The Southwest Museum was always there. The dioramas were always there. You could always go there. When it closed, it really left a hole in the fabric of the community.”
Everyone is Welcome to Submit
Mayerson welcomes photos from amateurs as well as more accomplished photographers. Because of technological advances, Mayerson notes that photography isn’t always a professional’s game anymore.
“Professionals might be looking for the perfect angle,” says Mayerson, “but less experienced photographers bring tremendous soul, heart, and sincerity to their photographs.” Still, she’s interested in what NELA’s more accomplished photographers will submit.
Although only a fraction of the Southwest Museum's collection is currently on view, Mayerson notes that there is “always something beautiful to see” and photograph at the Southwest Museum whether it’s art or stair rails, and is “interested to see what the community comes up with.”
Mayerson also notes that she doesn’t have a deadline but will accept photos “as long as the museum is open.”
SWMPP Photos to Be Featured on Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch
Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch is helping to promote Mayerson's endeavor by featuring photos from the Southwest Museum Photography Project. Every Sunday, Mayerson will choose a photo from those submitted; the chosen photo will then be featured on Patch.
“The Photo Project is a way for the community to show some love to the Southwest Museum,” says Mayerson. “It’s a photographic love letter.”