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NJHS receives AAM’s “MUSE” award for online Turnpike exhibition


The New Jersey Historical Society (NJHS) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a 2003 “MUSE” award for outstanding achievement in museum media by the American Association of Museum’s Media and Technology Committee.

The award recognizes NJHS’ new web-based exhibition What Exit? New Jersey and its Turnpike, an online version of the award-winning traveling exhibition of the same name.

“We received so much positive feedback on the [mounted] exhibition that the answer was right in front of us,” said Janet Rassweiler, Project Director and Director for Programs and Collections at NJHS. “As newcomers to the World Wide Web, we are so proud to receive this kind of recognition, especially for our first foray into the arena of online exhibitions.”

Completed earlier this year, What Exit? online borrows major ideas and themes from its museum counterpart, but is greatly expanded with the help of the Internet forum.

The original exhibition — opened in conjunction with the Turnpike’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2001 — paid tribute to the nation’s most heavily traveled toll road with authentic artifacts, never-before exhibited photographs, 1950s film footage and interactive activities. In its online version, visitors can recapture the early sense of wonderment surrounding the creation of the Turnpike with a sampling of historical newspaper clippings, media advertisements, safety films, and songs inspired by the road, all enhancements to the overall virtual viewing experience.

Funded by The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement, the online exhibition was created with the help of the American Social History Project, which specializes in making history accessible to a broad audience. Their technological expertise combined with research provided by The New Jersey Historical Society helped bring the exhibition into a new arena, according to Exhibition Curator Ellen Snyder-Grenier.

“The relevance of this exhibition has always extended far beyond New Jersey,” Snyder-Grenier said. “The Internet has allowed us to not only prolong the life of the exhibit, but also the opportunity to share New Jersey’s American story with audiences worldwide.”

Divided into three sections, the online exhibition can be visited from a number of perspectives: its construction, design, path, and how it was promoted; the role of cars, roads and traffic in its creation; and the stories of the people that give it life. What Exit? online can be found at www.jerseyhistory.org.

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