Fairmont State University students working toward their museum studies minor have created a new exhibit, The Civil War: Selections from the Porter Stiles Collection, under the direction of Dr. Marian Hollinger. The grand opening will be at 7 p.m. Monday, November 11, at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.
The exhibit focuses on the Civil War and West Virginia’s involvement and features artifacts on loan from the collection of local Civil War expert Porter Stiles. Stiles will speak about the collection with a reception to follow.
Porter Stiles graduated from Fairmont State College after serving in the U.S. Air Force. He is a retired teacher, having taught art, social studies, and physical education in Berkeley and Preston Counties and art at Fairmont State University. Stiles gained an interest in Civil War reenactment in 1997 and stresses the importance of continued research by the reenactor to provide authenticity to their portrayal. His expertise has provided him the opportunity to work on several Civil War movies and documentaries, including “Gods and Generals,” in which he played multiple roles and furnished his own uniforms and weapons. He has cultivated a comprehensive collection of Civil War artifacts over the years and has generously allowed Fairmont State University’s museum studies classes to present them in their latest exhibit.
Fairmont State University students Jennifer Tenney, Nathan Niezgoda, and Sarah Esposito have taken the lead in preparing this exhibition as part of Dr. Hollinger’s Museum Exhibit Design and Instruction class. Assisted by the members of Dr. Hollinger’s Museum Interpretation and Education class and Elizabeth Chaney for her Honors Program capstone, this hands-on museum design experience allows the students to share what they have learned and provide an educational opportunity in their community.
After the opening, the exhibit will be open to the public from Nov. 12 – Dec. 12 and Jan. 13-Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and Dec. 16–19 by appointment only.
The Folklife Center is dedicated to the identification, preservation, and perpetuation of our region’s rich cultural heritage. It houses academic minors in folklore and museum studies. For questions, please contact Dr. Francene Kirk at 304-367-4170 or Francene.Kirk@fairmontstate.edu.