West Chester University showcases 150 year legacy through museum exhibit

WEST CHESTER, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- West Chester University's rich 150-year legacy is being highlighted in a unique museum exhibit.

The exhibit is being produced by students and is free and open to the public.

The exhibit traces the university's history back to 1871. WCU 150: History and Heritage exhibition is located on the main floor of Francis Harvey Green Library and is open to the public free of charge.

"We were founded as a normal school which is basically a two year kind of vocational high school that trains high school students to be elementary school teachers, and that was in the post-Civil War period," said Michael Di Giovine, director of museum studies.

One of the biggest highlights on display is Fredrick Douglass' autographed autobiography.

"His being on campus really set the stage for our continued evolution to be a more accepting place," said West Chester University senior Aaron Stoyack.

The university prides itself on being the last place Douglass spoke on his public tour before he passed away.

The exhibit sponsored by the alumni society highlights many pivotal moments in history, from the Vietnam War to the Civil Rights Era, all the way up to the modern day.

Last January, museum studies students began gathering all the artifacts.

"I learned a lot about what makes a school, a school, and what kind of history and heritage informs the present. And how we can learn from the past to become a better university," Stoyack said.

Inside the exhibit is a modern-day time capsule which they hope visitors will contribute to. The university plans to open it in 50 years at their 200th celebration.

Students say the exhibit speaks to understanding the past and making the future better.

"I think for the next 150 years, it's important that we take what we learned and experience on campus and change the world," added Stoyack.

The exhibition is open to the public Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to noon; and Thursday through Friday, 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The university says private appointments and special student-curator-led tours can also be arranged.

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