ExpERIEnce the Children’s Museum

Cheyanne Crum, Features Editor

Mercyhurst and the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum are teaming up to raise $4,000 to construct a new exhibit called Portal to the Past.
Allison Byrnes, M.A., Lithic Technology Specialist and Director of Lithic Analysis Laboratory, contacted the museum to see if there was a possibility for a collaboration toward youth-oriented education between the Archaeology Department at the ’Hurst and the Children’s Museum.
“I contacted the Children’s Museum in March to ask if they would be interested in pursuing some funding opportunities in the future to help expand our platform for teaching kids, since they share the mission to educate young people,” Byrnes said.
The timing was perfect.
“As it turned out, the day before I was scheduled to meet with their then-assistant director, I became aware that the Office of Advancement here at Mercyhurst was taking proposals for various crowd-funding projects. I pitched the idea to the Children’s Museum folks, and they loved the idea,” Byrnes said.
The ideas that were selected by Mercyhurst received support and help from the Marketing, Social Media and Fundraising staff.
The Museum has a 20-foot- long cave that they wanted to make more educational.
“We thought working together to transform the cave into an archaeology, geology and paleontology experience would be a fun idea that fulfilled the mission of both institutions and would be really well-received by the public,” Byrnes said.
Some of the new pieces in the exhibit will include murals of authentic cave artwork, artifact replicas that children can interact with and authentic cave lighting to make it feel more real.
“Our plans for the cave include hiring a local artist to paint reproductions of actual cave paintings along the cave interior, adding safety lighting and a flameless ‘fire’ pit to give it a real ‘cave-y’ feel,” Byrnes said.
One of the other plans for the cave will be constructing display cases to house real archaeological, geological and paleontological specimens.
“Many of the specimens will be loaned from the collections we have in our archaeology and geology departments, while the others will be temporarily donated by the Historical Society of Erie County and some local businesses,” Byrnes said.
The original plan that Byrnes had was for a future partnership between Mercyhurst and the Erie Children’s Museum, but the opportunity presented itself a lot sooner.
“If the project succeeds, it will be a positive first step in what I hope can become a long-term relationship with the Children’s Museum,” Byrnes said.
As of Sept. 13, the crowd-funding project had earned $1,445 and still had 17 days left. Donations of any size are welcome and greatly appreciated. If there are any questions or requests for further information regarding the fundraiser Allison Byrnes can be reached at (814)-824-2982.
To donate visit:
https://seize.mercyhurst.edu/project/2675/wall and for more information on the project and other Anthropology and Archaeology events, like their page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HurstAnthArch/.