Friday, July 17, 2009

Meet the Ghosts of the Sinclair Inn Museum - Part 1

I have written before about the long and complicated history of the Sinclair Inn Museum. This three hundred year old building seen the transition of colonial power from French to British, experienced the French and Mi'kmaq raids of the 1740s when many of its neighbours were burned. The building and stood near the location of the Acadian deportation from Annapolis Royal and received an influx of Loyalists who were fleeing the newly minted United States. The building was used as the first Masonic Lodge in Canada and may be the first licensed public house in Canada. In more recent years, the building has been a hotel, a car dealership and the premises of a local bootlegger. With all of this varied history, the Sinclair Inn decidedly has many stories to tell. For the purposes of our museum, can these stories be told in an innovative and interactive way?

This was our quandary a few years ago when we were working on the interpretation of the Sinclair Inn Museum. Could we present historical information in a different way? How could we tell 300 years worth of stories in a relatively confined space? After a great deal of discussion, we brought Ern Dick of Granville Ferry to the table. Ern and I had both seen an interesting technology known as a Peppers Ghost used at the Pointe-a-Calliere archaeology museum in Montreal. He felt that this sort of application would work in the Sinclair Inn.

For the sake of clarity, a Peppers Ghost is not new technology in any way. The Peppers Ghost illusion is actually one which has been used theatrically and in museums since the 1870s. It was perfected by the British inventors John Pepper and Henry Dircks. Essentially what is happening is that the viewer is seeing an image reflected off of a clear screen shown across the desired background. In our case, the background is the stone basement of the museum. From the perspective of the viewer, they cannot see the screen so the image looks like it is hovering in mid air like a ghost. The image is in no way a hologram.

At some point in the coming days, I will add another post discussing the process of getting the theory of the Peppers Ghost installed in the Sinclair Inn Museum.

All for now,

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