Etched in Stone? Governor Charles Aycock and the Power of Commemoration

"We continue to hear that the removal of a name is an attempt to remove history. I think we want to make a strong statement that we're not erasing history. I think the exhibit is probing that history so we can better understand it."

— Provost Dana Dunn, UNCG

"Etched in Stone? Governor Charles Aycock and the Power of Commemoration" started with a museum studies class at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, led by Professor Benjamin Filene. Design Dimension, Inc. was selected to work directly with the class, following another job at Revolution Mill completed with Filene and UNCG students in 2016.

Following a decision by the university trustees, Aycock’s name was removed from the UNCG Auditorium. The mission for the exhibit was to create an educational experience that did not erase history, but one that was built on research and designed to question decisions made decades ago. The two-year project includes multiple interactives and informative panels to help the viewer understand context and uncover more about the “Education Governor.” Ultimately, the exhibit discusses commemoration and evaluates how we commemorate properly and why is it’s important for today and the future.

Careful Consideration

This project contains sensitive material in a public place. The Design Dimension team and UNCG students met regularly while developing content and designing the exhibit. Together, the group considered how to display this information and create moments of discovery for the visitor. The exhibit is one of many to resulting from decision makers grappling with how to handle these complicated messages in 2018 and beyond.

"We continue to hear that the removal of a name is an attempt to remove history. I think we want to make a strong statement that we're not erasing history. I think the exhibit is probing that history so we can better understand it."

— Provost Dana Dunn, UNCG

Accolades and Awards

The University of North Carolina Greensboro Public History Program was selected as a 2019 Award of Excellence winner by the Leadership in History awards committee for the exhibit “Etched in Stone? Governor Charles Aycock and the Power of Commemoration.” In addition, the exhibit was also selected as a 2019 HIP (History in Progress) award winner by the Leadership in History awards committee.

The American Association for State and Local History’s Leadership in History Awards is the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history.

The HIP Award, given at the discretion of the committee, is an additional award for an Award of Excellence winner whose nomination is highly inspirational, exhibits exceptional scholarship, and/or is exceedingly entrepreneurial in terms of funding, partnerships, or collaborations, creative problem solving, or unusual project design and inclusiveness. Only 5% or fewer of the total number of Award of Excellence winners can be given the HIP Award.

Video Content/Animation design by DASH Studio in Raleigh, NC


Press

"'Aycock Auditorium' name comes off UNCG building" Greensboro.com News & Record


"A year away: UNCG making progress on Aycock exhibit" Greensboro.com News & Record

"Etched in stone: UNCG opens exhibit on Charles B. Aycock" Greensboro.com News & Record


News & Record "The Syllabus: UNCG, Aycock and textbooks" Greensboro.com News & Record


"How One Campus Is Dealing With Its Ties to a 20th-Century White Supremacist" Chronicle.com


"'Etched in Stone?' Exhibition Takes Two National Honors" UNCG News