The Delaware County Cultural Arts Center’s latest exhibit, All the Rage: Art and Fashion in Early Delaware County, runs through April 28 at the Arts Castle, 190 W. Winter St.
The exhibit features items on loan from the Big Walnut Area Historical Society, the Delaware County Historical Society, the Powell Liberty Historical Society, the Radnor Historic Museum and the collections of county residents.
Diane Hodges, executive director of the Arts Castle, said the idea for the exhibit sprang from the annual discussion about what educational experience the cultural arts center could offer for third-grade classes. She said center officials settled on an exhibit featuring items from the years around the Arts Castle’s construction in 1854.
Hodges said she wanted to display items that could have been used in the day-to-day lives of the Campbell family — the original owners of the Romanesque Revival-style residence.
“We were wondering what it would be like … what artwork would have been on the walls, what they might have been wearing,” she said.
By the time the exhibit closes, hundreds of third-graders from throughout the county will have walked through the structure’s halls. Students from the Big Walnut Local School District, the Delaware City School District and Village Academy in Powell are among the exhibit’s initial visitors.
“The kids come and tour the exhibit and then they sit briefly and get a basic history of the castle and its founding,” said Paula Blosser, exhibits coordinator with the Arts Castle.
Blosser said student art projects, dance lessons and parlor games follow.
Karen Hildebrand, chairwoman of the Delaware County Historical Society’s Curriculum Support Committee, said students thus far have been fascinated by items such as a mourning wreath made of human hair.
“The human hair part always kind of gets them (interested),” she said.
Hildebrand said a chamber pot — a precursor to the toilet — is “by far is the most-popular” item on display among the students.
A ceremonial sword and old-fashioned underwear on display also have led to questions from quizzical students.
Blosser said although most of the items on display are from the county historical collection, the aid of many groups and individuals has been invaluable.
Hildebrand said the exhibit gave society officials another excuse to catalog and research items in its collection.
She said the previously unknown subject of a portrait on loan to the Arts Castle has been identified as Marie Selika Williams — the first black woman to sing at the White House.
She accepted Delaware native Rutherford B. Hayes’ invitation to perform in 1878.
Donna Meyer, executive director of the county historical society, said she thinks the collaboration has been a boon to the center and local historical societies.
“This was a great partnership and I’d like to see this happen with other groups,” she said.
The exhibit remains open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Arts Castle through the end of the month.