Local Arts

Here’s a way you can show up in Charlotte’s history, telling your own story

Levine Museum of the New South is kicking off new exhibit “#HomeCLT” with “StoryMining 250” where staff members will collect oral histories from Charlotte community members.
Levine Museum of the New South is kicking off new exhibit “#HomeCLT” with “StoryMining 250” where staff members will collect oral histories from Charlotte community members. Courtesy of Levine Museum of the New South

Want to tell your real-life story about living in Charlotte? Whether it happened last week or 50 years ago, the Levine Museum of the New South wants to hear it.

“(We’re looking for) people who can speak authentically about their experience here as long-time residents, as natives, as newcomers, as people who are really rooted here and people who are looking to leave as fast as they can,” said Kathryn Hill, president and CEO of the museum.

That’s what the museum’s upcoming exhibition “#HomeCLT” is about: documenting history as it happens, said Hill, and and diving deeper into Charlotte’s communities through the stories of people who live there.

So the Levine is launching “StoryMining 250,” and hopes to get 250 people to tell their own stories. Those stories, in oral history form, will go into “#HomeCLT.”

“If the effort isn’t made at the very time things are happening, that resource doesn’t exist for people in the future,” said Dan Spock, senior vice president of the museum.

Yes, the goal is to preserve history, Hill said — but it’s also to help people understand different perspectives in the city. “We can’t change Charlotte if we don’t know Charlotte,” Hill said.

“This project is really about building a more unified, stronger, more equitable Charlotte.”

Hill said they hope to get stories from people from all over the city --- including unique neighborhoods, all ages, genders and backgrounds. They will gather stories based on submissions and suggestions from community members on their “StoryMining 250” website.

The goal of 250 corresponds with the city’s 250th birthday this year, but Spock said they plan to collect stories for years and will continue to add them to the exhibition. A staff team and community partners will collect and document the stories using audio and video.

“There are just so many stories to be told,” Spock said.

While plans for “StoryMining 250” are still in progress, the museum is finalizing an agreement with a local archive to properly preserve the oral histories.

Hill said they are developing a way to use augmented reality to take this project outside of the museum’s walls. This model will be similar to Pokémon Go, Hill said, where users can walk around Charlotte and hear stories in the city’s different neighborhoods.

“We can capture stories of people, who then through the app that you have on your device, can talk to you, both within our walls but also out in the places where history actually happened.”

Want to submit your story or nominate a storyteller?

You can go online, to www.museumofthenewsouth.org/learn/storymining-250, but you can also call the museum at 704-333-1887 ext. 224, or mail your story to the museum at 200 E. 7th St., Charlotte NC 28202.