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Tallahassee Museum's 'Identity Project' Exhibit Asks Guests To Look Within

Deaton stands next to an Identity Project poster
Matthew Stolpe

The Tallahassee Museum opened a new exhibit called “The Identity Project” last weekend. The attraction is a more introspective experience than the museum’s outdoor fare.

A world map, a black hoodie and a needlework family sampler are some of the dozens of community-donated artifacts that fill “The Identity Project,” the newest exhibit at the Tallahassee Museum. Here in the museum’s Phipps Gallery everyday objects take on new, reflective meanings. Their purpose in the exhibit is to make museum visitors contemplate their own identities. Plaques located near the artifacts ask questions like “What do you do?”, “How do you define your community?” and “What might you assume about someone wearing this?"

The exhibit also features interactive components including a booth where guests can describe themselves with talk-bubble-shaped chalkboards, a world map where visitors can place stickers to identify where they're from, and a "true mirror."

A true mirror shows a non-reversed image of its viewer, or how other people see the viewer every day. (Traditional mirrors flip images.) The Tallahassee Museum Chief Curator Linda Deaton describes what it's like to look through one.

"They say you need to- it’s going to make you kind of look a little, they say, not symmetrical. But if you play with it for a little while, you feel more comfortable with who’s looking back at you. And that’s the real you," Deaton says.

Deaton says The Identity Project is an attempt to appeal to a modern audience. She says museum officials are reinterpreting the Tallahassee Museum to focus more on community, and they see “identity” as a key pillar of that.

According to Deaton, the exhibit lets museum officials learn about how the guests see themselves and their community. But above all, Deaton wants visitors to share what they learn at the attraction with each other.

“While I see it as an experience to come in, I don’t see it necessarily as a sober experience," Deaton say. "I hope that it’s a fun experience, because the museum is very much about having fun. And again, I hope it’s a place where families can come and learn from each other.”

Admission to The Identity Project is included with the regular ticket price for the Tallahassee Museum. The attraction runs until Jan. 2, 2015.