To see The History Center's first Virtual Exhibit, go to www.fwhistorycenter.com.
26,000 artifacts. 19,000 photos. 750 linear feet of documents and other archival materials.
It's a lot of stuff, and the History Center has room to display only about 12 percent of its collection.
That's a big reason why Wednesday the History Center launched its first Virtual Exhibit on its website, www.fwhistorycenter.com.
“We will roll out these virtual exhibits every so often,” said Todd Maxwell Pelfrey, History Center executive director.
Most virtual exhibits will be tied in with a significant community event or popular topic, Pelfrey said.
The first, for example, “Civil Rights in Fort Wayne: A Photographic Retrospective,” coincides with the 50th anniversary next Wednesday of the civil rights movement's March on Washington in 1963. The event is where late civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The virtual exhibit contains nine black-and-white photographs taken during the civil rights era in Fort Wayne, including one from June 5, 1963, showing King speaking to an interracial crowd here at the former Scottish Rite Auditorium at 431 W. Berry St. The building now is the University of Saint Francis' Performing Arts Center.
Other photos in the virtual exhibit capture the scene at local civil rights marches. Another shows a classroom at a local “Freedom School” in 1969, when local African-American leaders organized a boycott of Fort Wayne Community Schools to force it to commit to a plan for school desegregation.
With each photo is caption information including a title, date, description of the scene depicted and the source of the photo. Several are from The News-Sentinel.
Future virtual exhibits could include photos, images of artifacts or items in the archive collection, Pelfrey said. The virtual exhibits will stay on the History Center website for people's future use.
The link to the virtual exhibit currently is under a photo of King speaking at the Scottish Rite, which is beneath icons for the center's Facebook page, Visit Fort Wayne and Fort Wayne Museum Dream Pass. Pelfrey said the History Center hopes to redesign its website at some point.
He doesn't expect virtual exhibits to hurt attendance at the History Center, 302 E. Berry St. Rather, he hopes they will encourage people to explore more of the museum's collection in person.