LAKE JACKSON — Photos of rickety metal monkey bars and crazy slides in outlandish shapes and sizes make up the latest exhibit at the Lake Jackson Historical Museum, a display focused on playground equipment and bringing back childhood memories.
“Once Upon A Play-ground” is a traveling exhibit that features photography and information on playgrounds intended to take visitors down memory lane. The exhibit has panels and photos showing views of playground equipment from several decades.
The exhibit is part of the museum’s long-term planning, Museum Director Robert Rule said.
“We made it a goal to have a traveling exhibit at least once a year, to bring in something new, something different,” Rule said. We got something we think people will be interested in.”
Lake Jackson had some very interesting parks through the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s that featured peculiar pieces of playground equipment, Rule said.
“We thought it would be cool to talk about that,” he said. “They had a fighter jet at one of our parks for a time. They had some playground that looked like a NASA rocket that people are going to remember if they played on it. We wanted to bring back those memories, talk about those memories.”
A mixture of sorts, “Once Upon A Playground,” from ExhibitsUSA presents playgrounds form across the county and is combined with the local attractions, Rule said.
“The traveling exhibit component will be discussing a variety of playground equipment from years past, and then we have our supplemental panels where we are talking about some parks here in Lake Jackson,” he said.
The bulk of the exhibit is panels and imagery because it is expensive to ship actual, large objects such as playground equipment, Rule said.
“Suddenly you are looking at several thousand dollars just at shipping costs,” he said.
It was a fun challenge to set up the exhibit in an intriguing way, Curator Angela Villarreal said.
“I often do try to determine a dynamic and appealing layout when setting up a traveling exhibit, but in the case of ‘Once Upon A Playground,’ it was more about wall space,” she said. “An open rotunda with temporary panel walls does limit design, so with the many pictures that came with this traveling exhibit, I had to determine a configuration that would offer the most wall space but at the same time be stable and allow visitors plenty of room to walk around the panels.”
As with any exhibit she works on, her favorite moments are seeing visitors’ reactions to the exhibit and hearing the stories and memories they relay to staff the display inspired, Villarreal said.
Playground equipment today is very different, and if anything, visitors who come in and look at the exhibit can see the differences, Rule said.
“We are simply trying to bring in something people can find very relatable,” she said.
“Once Upon A Playground” will remain on display until Aug. 10 at the museum, 249 Circle Way. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free.
For information, call the Lake Jackson Historical Museum at 979-297-1570.