By Sean Callahan, News Editor
The Fred Rogers Institute has been hard at work on a second exhibit with the Latrobe Art Center, Growth and Togetherness in the Music and Writings of Fred Rogers, set to open Feb. 25 at the Center, and running until Mar. 25. The exhibit will be available for viewing during the Center’s business hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday. There are opening and closing events from 3 to 5 p.m. on the first and last days of the exhibit.
Gina Beneccio, sophomore early childhood education major, Fred Rogers Scholar and Institute work study, explained that the two topics of the exhibit, music and literacy, are a part of the theme selection provided by the Institute. After being given the theme, the scholars decided what story they wanted to tell with pieces from the Fred Rogers archives.
Sarah Goehring, Program Associate of the Fred Rogers Institute, added that the Fred Rogers Scholars–also the Institute’s work studies this year–broke into two separate teams, one focused on music and the other on literacy. Both were co-lead by two scholars, and each team determined their distribution of responsibilities.
“Some of the responsibilities include selecting artifacts to be displayed with the help of our Archivist Emily Uhrin, writing captions for display pieces, and planning a children's activity for the opening and closing events for the exhibit,” Goehring said.
Goehring coordinated with the Latrobe Art Center, helped organize the teams and kept student deadlines on track. The Institute’s two graduate assistants helped ensure that the music and literacy topics blended together for the exhibit. But ultimately, the Scholars were responsible for the exhibit.
Beneccio, who worked with the music side of the exhibit, elaborated on the process with the archivist.
“We went to the archives first, where the archivist picked out materials that would help the scholars begin the story,” she said. “If we felt we were missing anything for the story, we’d ask if she had something that would fit.”
The scholars then wrote captions for each exhibit piece, explaining what it had to do with the story. They left QR codes on some exhibits, which will lead viewers to videos of interviews with people who interacted with Fred Rogers.
According to Beneccio, the first half of the exhibit is the literacy portion, and the second half is the music portion. Scholars studying on both literacy and music sections alike noted Rogers’ inclusivity and how accessible both aspects of Rogers were to children of the world. In examining the music side, she noted Rogers’ history of musical training and education, as well as how it intersected with his literacy lessons with children. She highlighted Rogers’ song “It’s You I Like”, in which Rogers’ emphasized the personhood of each child regardless of who they were.
“He used his songs and operas to teach children reading and rhythm, because even dictation starts with tongue and rhythm,” she said.
Beneccio explained that there will be a children’s activity in a room adjacent to the exhibit, that is relevant to the exhibit’s story.
“Some scholars work on the children’s activity, some work more on the exhibit. For the music activity, we’re going to play music and give children a blank piece of paper,” she said. “Depending on their age, we’re going to ask them what the song looks like or how it makes them feel. We’ll have them draw the emotions on paper.”
Beneccio is most excited about showing sides of Fred Rogers in the exhibit that she feels most people do not think about. She prefaced this by explaining that the Institute’s last exhibit was on what Rogers did in Latrobe and how he grew up.
“We talked about Fred’s philosophies but not how he carried them out. I think it’s eye-opening for some people to see that every word he said and every word he wrote for the children was intentional,” Beneccio said.
Goehring encourages members of the SVC community to come view the exhibit, as well as the opening and the closing events.
“Knowing how much time and effort the Scholars have put into this exhibit, I would love to see members of the SVC community come out to support them right in downtown Latrobe,” she said.
The Scholars are also planning Fred Forever Week, held from March 20 to 25, which will be held in honor of Fred Rogers’ birthday. More information will be available on specific events soon.