Smithsonian Stories: YES

 In coordination with the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street Stories: YES program, Rose Center debuted the showing of the documentary film Morristown’s Skymart made by students of Girls, Inc. on July 15th, 2021.  The film is a partnership between Rose Center, East Tennessee PBS, Girls, Inc., and the Hamblen County Archives.  Since April 2021, the youth of Girls, Inc. have planned, researched, and put together this film that will be shared with the public and be in the archives on the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street website.  

Director of Girls, Inc. Lise Bender and Rose Center staff organized for the students to be a part of this project, and William Isom, II, Director of Community Outreach for East Tennessee PBS trained the students in documentary filmmaking and the use of film technology. The students learned how to use cameras, audio equipment, and film editing software.  The professional equipment and tools were paid for by the Stories: YESgrant Rose Center received from the Smithsonian Institution.  The equipment will be available for other community projects.   Cindy Dibbs of the Hamblen County Archives assisted the girls in acquiring the historic photographs and documents for the Morristown’s Skymart film.  Local historian Jim Claiborn was interviewed by the girls and his narrative on the overhead sidewalks is a prime feature of the film.

Morristown’s Skymart depicts the history and architectural significance of the overhead sidewalks in historic Downtown Morristown, the only such structure in the United States.  The short film examines how the structure fits into the unique architectural narrative of the downtown, how it was once part of a broad urban renewal project in the 1960s, and its impact on the local community.  The film boasts a rich host of historic photos of Morristown through the decades and the construction process of Morristown’s Skymart.  The overhead sidewalks were built from September of 1963 to May of 1967.  "I think this experience was so very valuable to our girls. They were enchanted and engaged the moment they were allowed to pick up cameras to film. You could almost see the very moment happen when they began to take in their hometown with new eyes,” said Girls, Inc. Executive Director Lise Bender. 

Funding for Stories: YES is generously provided to Museum on Main Street (MoMS) with internal Smithsonian Institution support from the Smithsonian Youth Access Grants Program.  MoMS is a partnership between the Smithsonian institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and state humanities councils.  It was created to serve museums, libraries and historical societies in rural areas, where one-fifth of all Americans live.  SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for over 65 years.  It connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.  For more information, including exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit www.sites.si.edu

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