Camper Gallery: Whittlin' History
Delaware Agricultural Museum & Village; Dover, DE
Delaware Agricultural Museum & Village
Ueland Junker McCauley Nicholson
Joseph A. Nicholson (Principal in Charge), George Gehring, Aimee Mercer, Joseph Nicholson, Amy Rees
David Wolfe Design
Whittlin' History is a permanent exhibit within the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village displaying Jehu Camper's wooden "whittlins." Camper's folk art captures rural Delaware at the turn of the twentieth century. The museum has the entirety of Camper's work and wished to display as much as possible. With only 800-square-feet and a limited budget, the designers set out to provide an engaging look at Camper's art. Using a palette of materials limited to Sintra and wood, the exhibit looks to Camper for inspiration. The design utilized iconographic images such as the red and white checkered pattern from tablecloths Camper used to display his work and templates Camper used to whittle his "characters." The exhibit is presented in an object/label art museum format, through visible storage, and in the interpretive context of the artifacts that Camper documented.
A lively installation enhanced and forcefully punctuated by a daring use of bright red signage, wall text edged in bold checkerboard patterns set against predictable museum-white walls. Using very modest means, this device points to the folkloric, down-home character of the exhibition and lends the festive atmosphere of a 4th of July picnic to the presentation of objects (such as hand whittled animals) that are themselves as light-hearted as an ice-cream social.