Museum workers are helping patrons imagine what life in this town resembled at the close of the second world war.
The Dunedin Historical Museum unveiled its newest exhibit, "Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II," late last month and will maintain the display through next May. The exhibit commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.
"People have really responded to seeing that local touch, to seeing what citizens did on the local front," museum curator Stephanie Chill said.
The town is saturated with historical relevance. Like how, before 1942, the Dunedin Hotel was converted to a U.S. Marine barracks. The surrounding area became an important training ground for troops.
One of the most notable things about this experience, Chill said, has been observing parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren engage with the exhibit together. "Inter-generational learning," she called it.
"I think if you provide the opportunity, people will continue to talk," she said. "And that's what we're seeing. What we're seeing is that older generations are passing down their stories."
The WWII veterans are dying by the day, said Vinnie Luisi, the museum's executive director, and "their history is getting lost in some way."
The exhibit is the museum's answer to this growing dilemma. This is a chance to give thanks to the country's "greatest generation," Luisi said.
Museum workers decided to keep the exhibit open for as long as it is because they wanted students to have the opportunity to visit the site during the school year as well, Chill said, adding that there are also plans to launch a mobile version of the exhibit sometime this fall. The mobile exhibit will be available for classroom and presentation use.
Additional programming for the museum exhibit will also include re-enactments, contests and history programs.
"I wanted to make sure that we didn't forget this was important, not only because younger generations need to learn about it, (but) we always can learn from the past," Chill said. "It's an opportunity for us to grow and learn for the future."
Contact Michael Majchrowicz at [email protected] or at 727-445-4159. Follow @mjmajchrowicz.