The new George W. Long Photography Collection exhibit at the Museum of the Western Prairie was named 2013 Outstanding Exhibit at the recent Oklahoma Museum Association Conference in Enid. Museum Director Jennie Buchanan attended the Awards Banquet and accepted the award on behalf of the Western Trail Historical Society.
“The George W. Long Photography Collection exhibit was made possible by our community, and it’s a story worth sharing.” Buchanan commented.
A photograph taken by the late Cecil Chesser to accompany a newspaper article he wrote in the 60s served as the inspiration for the design of the exhibit. The case displays the leather-covered chair that is in the photo as well as the mounted longhorns and the framed photographs.
Helon LaGree and other members of Western Trail Historical Society arranged for the purchase of the George W. Long Photography Collection in 1967 – three years before construction had even begun on the museum! Later, they presented the 478 pieces of the collection as a gift to the Museum of the Western Prairie.
Loweta Chesser and Bart McClenney, former curators of the museum, safeguarded the collection and believed in its importance.
The two sets of mounted longhorns – the one in the case and the one displayed above – were cleaned and refurbished by Greg Nettleton, owner of Skins and Skulls Taxidermy. The hair-on hide and leather work was done by Michael Thompson of Thompson’s Custom Saddles.
The hand-woven rug that set the color palette for the exhibit case is a part of the Wilson Collection which was a gift to the Museum of the Western Prairie from the late Mrs. Jeff J. (Jessie) Wilson.
The set of mounted longhorns in the case - which fit much better in the case than the set in Chesser’s photograph which is displayed above the case - was donated to the museum by Chris Dart.
The wood for the floor and side walls was salvaged from a downtown building which is in the early stages of renovation and owned by Diann McMahan. The tongue-and-groove flooring was from the mezzanine offices last used by Randel’s Ladies Wear. The bead boards used to panel the side walls came from one of the back rooms in the building which was constructed in 1903 to house the City National Bank. The wood was refinished, cut to size, and installed by museum volunteer Vic Wells who also installed the gallery hanging system.
The idea to use a photographer’s backdrop for the background in the case was contributed by Kathy Dickson, Director of Museums and Historic Sites for the Oklahoma Historical Society. The purchase of the backdrop as well as other fixtures in the case was made possible by funds from the City of Altus Economic Development Corporation.
The dress form was made by Erin Brown, curator of the Oklahoma Territorial Museum in Guthrie.
The artifacts, including the framed photographs, cameras, and other photography equipment, were carefully cleaned and readied for display by museum volunteer Terry Wells who also prepared the artifact descriptions for display.
The graphic design of the flip book pages and the reader rail were executed by Cynthia Manning, graphic artist for the Oklahoma Historical Society. Rillis Howard, OHS Exhibits Designer, provided guidance on the design.
The research for information presented in the artifact descriptors and the flip book pages was done by exhibit curator Jennie Buchanan, director of the Museum of the Western Prairie.
The George W. Long Photography Collection exhibit opened in March of this year and is considered a permanent exhibit. Located at 1100 Memorial in Altus, the Museum of the Western Prairie is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.