Student-created exhibit on access to sports set to open at EMU next month

A new exhibit created by students in Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) Historic Preservation Program will focus on who has access to university sports opportunities and who doesn't. The public is invited to a reception and ribbon-cutting for the opening of the exhibit April 17 from 3-6 p.m. 

The exhibit at McKenny Gallery, inside McKenny Hall at 878 Cross St. in Ypsilanti, changes yearly as the culminating project of a graduate-level course at EMU called Developing Museum Exhibits, led by Professor Nancy Bryk. Leading up to the exhibit, students spend about six weeks working in the archives, gathering information from primary sources, and deciding what objects should go into an exhibit.

The 15 students in this year's class had a variety of roles in the exhibit, from proofreading and printing labels to researching in the archives. Last year's exhibit focused on food and food insecurity. This year, Bryk gave the students the general topic of athletics and asked them to refine the idea further. 

"We're going to be talking about maintaining access within sports and athletics on campus and in the community, and then we'll have different groups talking about three different ways EMU has maintained access or hasn't maintained access," says student Akaiia Ridley, who is finishing up her second year in the historic preservation program. "We'll be talking about some of the change-makers that have come through EMU. For example, we're going to be talking about Lloyd Olds, who invented the referee uniform, and some women change-makers who advocate for women's inclusion in sports."

Once the students have finalized their selections, they will install the exhibit, which stays open until the next class is due to put up a new one. 

Ridley says this is the last year the exhibit will be held in McKenny Hall. Over the next year, the Historic Preservation program will be moving into an expanded space in Halle Library. A special space is planned for the exhibits, including much more storage space.

Ridley says she's excited about helping her classmates get the exhibit ready and about the historic preservation program in general.

"There are so many hidden stories that need preserving," she says.

After the grand opening, the exhibit will remain open for tours by appointment for the rest of 2024. Appointments may be scheduled by contacting nbryk@emich.edu.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photo by Sarah Rigg.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.