For the past decade, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates has undertaken and completed almost $14 million in restoration to all of the Edison and Ford historic buildings and gardens. The projects have won many national awards … but we are not done yet, and the work ahead this year will be very interesting.
This year we will focus on the Edison Ford Museum which had its earliest beginnings in the mid 1960’s when the historic site first opened to the public. The Museum building was added onto every decade to accommodate the growing collection of inventions, artifacts and program areas. Today, the building includes 15,000 square feet of gallery and exhibit space.
Improvements will include new lighting systems (new LED gallery lighting system) and a new 50×25 foot porch which will open into the Heritage Garden on the west side of the Museum.
As has been our practice, we will again remain open throughout the work ahead. Visitors and Members will be able to track our progress with a completion date for all of the improvements set for Fall, 2013.
New exhibits are also in the works for the Museum to include a new Botanical Laboratory exhibit and an exhibit on Fishing & Boating. In fact, we have already started installing components of the Botanical Laboratory exhibit with the installation this month of a very intricate ‘diorama’ of the Laboratory. The diorama is 1/18 size … and includes lab work stations, machine shop equipment, research office, darkroom and even a tiny replica of the giant goldenrod herbarium specimen from the 1920s. It was created by artist, Stephen Hayford, who began work with Chief Curator Alison Giesen more than a year ago to carefully replicate the historic operation of the building.
Hayford is a talented craftsman with a unique skill set and has created Star Wars-themed diorama images for Lucasfilm, Ltd. and is employed by museums throughout the nation. In addition to his painstaking recreation of the Laboratory building and work areas, he also employed other specialty artists. An example is the miniature Thomas Edison working in the laboratory, another is the tiny blown glass laboratory vessels produced by miniaturist Ferenc J. Albert who also worked in the research laboratory glass industry.
It is a fascinating project, and we plan that the completion of the entire lab exhibit will be completed by Edison’s birthday in February with other components installed in the months ahead.
Work on the Fishing & Boating exhibit also began last year with the completion of a 15 foot replica wooden skiff which was built by Edison Ford carpenter (and shipwright) Jack Davis. He headed a group of sea scouts who learned to build the skiff using only hand tools and won the wooden boat building contest in Lee County. The exhibit will include the skiff and maps, mounted fish, equipment and of course, photos and stories about our favorite fishing families, the Edisons and Fords.