GREENFIELD — The empty exhibit stood in stark contrast to the nearby 40-foot-tall T-rex and display of Egyptian tombs and mummies.
The Chicago’s Field Museum tribute brought attention to the countless historical objects destroyed by war, time and neglect. For Frances LaBore, that moving tribute to history lost cemented her desire to find a career based around protecting the past.
In that spirit, LaBore, 17, is planning a project to help a local historical museum better preserve its collection. The Greenfield resident aims to earn her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor for a Girl Scout Senior, by raising money and then building two museum-quality display cases to be placed upstairs in the Chapel in the Park, where items will cycle from their home in the county historical society’s museum in the basement of the building.
The Troop No. 716 members has been planning the project for about a year and has raised about $500 so far, reaching out to charitable organizations like the local Elks lodge and Tri Kappa. She plans to pitch her project to the Hancock County Tourism Commission next week.
Most, if not all, of the display cases currently used in the Hancock County Historical Society’s museum originated in retail stores, meaning they’re not meant to protect items long term, LaBore said.
The cases she plans to build at a cost of about $1,300 will be air-tight and feature acrylic surfaces where any artifacts touch. In displays with wood surfaces, the wood expands and contracts, speeding up the breakdown of fibers in historical artifacts, LaBore said.
“We’ve encouraged her to make sure it’s up to museum standards,” said Brigette Cook Jones, former director of the museum and current head of the county’s tourism efforts. “We’ve got a lot of hand-me-down stuff, and it’s not optimal for displaying artifacts.”
Placing the new cases upstairs will provide an opportunity for those who can’t access the basement museum area to see some of the artifacts owned and cared for by the historical society, LaBore said. The stairs are steep, the basement crowded; the humidity in the small room precludes some people from spending much time in the area, she said.
The adults working with LaBore on the project, including troop leader Sally Williams, have applauded her polished pitch to the historical society and charitable organizations she hopes will donate toward her project.
“She’s amazing with how well-organized she is,” Williams said. “She’s my gung-ho Girl Scout.”
LaBore hopes her contribution to the historical society and museum won’t end with her Gold Award. She plans to attend Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, and major in social sciences and chemistry with a minor in Biblical Greek, geared toward an eventual career in historic preservation, she said.
She would like to continue raising money for the county history museum and eventually aid the nonprofit in finding a new more accessible location for its artifacts, she said.
“A lot of people don’t know about our local history,” she said. “I want to keep taking small steps to change that.”
Frances LaBore, 17, of Greenfield, recently attended the Girl Scouts of America’s National Convention in Columbus, Ohio.
She was invited as a delegate, a rare honor for a senior scout, said troop leader Sally Williams. About 15 other scouts and adults from Indiana represented the state at the national convention as well, Williams said.