Musical Memories: UWEC, museum want your input for ‘History Harvest’

Lauren Fisher

“The Sounds of Eau Claire Music History Harvest” at the Chippewa Valley Museum on March 3 will gather memories and memorabilia of the Chippewa Valley’s musical heritage.
“The Sounds of Eau Claire Music History Harvest” at the Chippewa Valley Museum on March 3 will gather memories and memorabilia of the Chippewa Valley’s musical heritage.

Photos. Diaries. Programs. Oral stories. Objects. Instruments. The architects behind the “Sounds of Eau Claire Music History Harvest” have some guesses as to what Chippewa Valley residents will bring through the museum doors, and are excited to see their expectations exceeded. The Chippewa Valley Museum will host this history collection event 11am-4pm Saturday, March 3. People from all over the region are invited to share stories and objects related to the history of music of all genres and cultures in the Valley.

Participants are encouraged to bring anything they believe is relevant to that history, be it a photograph, a flyer, a family instrument, or a personal account. Event staff will evaluate and make digital records – photographs and audio recordings – of the things people bring, and the originals will be returned to their owners at the event. Some people will be invited to provide an interview of their personal experience with local music history. Participants should expect some quick paperwork granting permission for UW-Eau Claire and the museum to use and publicize the digitized records.

Gregory Kocken, head of UWEC’s special collections and archives at the W.D. Mcintyre Library, has been working with Dan Ott, a UWEC history professor, and Carrie Ronnander, the museum’s director, to develop systems for collecting and archiving these records. He will collaborate with students from Ott’s publis history class to upload the collection into an online exhibit that will be accessible to the public.

In addition to celebrating music heritage with other community members, participants will be able to listen to live music performances and enjoy lectures by local musicians, historians, and influencers. Buskers will be stationed at intervals throughout the museum. “People can walk through the halls and have a different sort of museum experience,” Ott said.

“It is my hope that this project is inclusive of a wider musical tradition,” Kocken said. Ott and Ronnander share that hope. They are excited for this project to represent as many communities, musical traditions, genres, and people as possible. Kocken went on to say that they hope to discover musical roots in areas we don’t often consider, such as traditional Hmong music, or smaller musical groups such as basement bands or musical families.

A second “History Harvest” will be held April 14 at the UWEC library in case people aren’t able to attend the first event and to ensure all contributions are processed.

More information is available on the Chippewa Valley Museum’s website (cvmuseum.com) and on its Facebook page.

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