When Michael Fey first became involved in assisting the American Red Cross make a traveling museum exhibit become a reality, he didn't know the emotional investment he would soon develop toward the whole project. Initially prompted to help the Red Cross by Charlotte Berry, a very valuable and supportive Foundation board member on the SC State Museum, and a member on the board of the National Red Cross, Fey soon came to personally feel that "the Red Cross story was compelling enough for it to become a [successful] nationally traveling exhibit."
Michael Fey, the director of Exhibits, Building Services, and Public Safety of the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, SC, lent his incredible talents towards making the American Red Cross Traveling Museum Exhibit successfully premiere at his museum. Photo Courtesy of Michael Fey.
Fey came to have high regard for the Red Cross mission to alleviate the plight of victims of hurricane, fire, or other national disasters. He knew that Red Cross aided natural disaster victims, but did not realize the extent of help that was performed for them. According to Fey, "I was enlightened and surprised by all the things the Red Cross does, nationally and internationally, I felt that the organization was like our nation's "guardian angel," always present and available to provide guidance."
"The American Red Cross organization is really our national treasure," said Fey. So what exactly did Fey do to help make the Red Cross' traveling museum exhibit into being? Bringing all his 26 years of museum know-how into play, first he drove to the Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, DC to get a whirlwind "Readers Digest" tour and history lesson about the non-profit organization. Second, he then visited a warehouse in Lorton, Virginia where he stored many of the artifacts and objects that he planned would become part of the Red Cross museum exhibit. Third, he championed for the use of restricted museum funding for some Red Cross staff members who were assigned to keep this museum planning project active. Fourth, Fey helped save the Red Cross organization money by helping to negotiate with an outside company for the exhibit development booklet fee made for its traveling museum exhibit. And last, but not least, he participated in many weekly conference calls to help keep the planning for this traveling museum exhibit running smoothly.
He believes his efforts were well worth it. The traveling exhibit premiered at the SC State Museum as planned. It opened to delight and entertain of adults and children alike. Fey remarked that the traveling exhibit has about 10 components that are interactive, displays Red Cross disaster relief artifacts, like pins, books, uniforms, disaster packs, etc., has a short sit down theater presenting an overview of today's Red Cross, and finishes by calling spectators to action by learning more about Red Cross emergency services, donating blood or money, or volunteering their time to assist with disaster relief or other local Red Cross chapter work.
Fey stated his belief that by the American Red Cross assembling this traveling exhibit, it "would affect other people across the country, [causing them to] increase donations of time and money to the local chapters and to the national organization, and hopefully raise awareness for and begin a movement" to establish a permanent exhibition about the American Red Cross in a state museum. Fey recalled that his favorite aspect of the Red Cross' traveling museum exhibit is "the overall experience one gets from witnessing all that the Red Cross does, through the entire exhibit."
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.