ECI HYER / THE CITY OF NOME / CARRIE M. MCLAIN MUSEUM
PUBLIC has designed a new space for an existing city museum in the remote northern city of Nome, Alaska. The Carrie M. McLain Museum features the colourful history and rich story of this goldrush boom town. This is a museum intended for two audiences: first, for the local community. There's not a lot to do up in Nome in the long winter evenings and the museum is sometimes a local date spot, we are told. Second, visitors to Nome are drawn by the romance and adventure of being on the edge of the world, and all that conveys. Our work in the museum exhibit is intended to capture that sense of risk, journey, opportunity and community. Working closely with the museum director and curators, we developed content and experiences around six themes made unique by Nome’s isolation and harsh climate. Artifacts, stories and ideas explore “Gold Fever”, “Making the Most Out of Nothing”, “Building Community” and “Staying Warm”, among others.
Telling the story of Nome means addressing the intense three-month timespan in the summer of 1900 when the population ballooned from 3,000 to 20,000 people searching for opportunity. Newcomers weren't allowed to make the voyage unless they proved they had everything for survival in the boxes that accompanied them. To this day, citizens of Nome rely on the ships and planes that carry in everything from fruit to lumber. The exhibit concept centres around shipping, shipping containers and the ad hoc edges and spaces that are created through necessity, ingenuity and entrepreneurial invention.The exhibitry is designed to be modular, flexible and changeable, so the local museum staff can continue to create their own labels to keep the locals interested and the topics up to date.