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Making the Past Present at Elsewhere

September 28, 2011 | By Federal/State Partnership Staff

Faced with 58 years of accumulated inventory and collections in his grandmother’s former second hand shop, George Scheer reacted in a way not many in his position would by declaring “Nothing for Sale!” in the former store. Instead, he joined with friend and collaborator Stephanie Sherman and imagined the building and collection as a potential “thinking playground,” eventually launching a museum and artist residency program that attracts creative producers from across disciplines.

Nestled in downtown Greensboro, NC, Elsewhere Collaborative, as Scheer’s grandmother’s former shop space is now known, acts as an innovative living museum exploring creative collaboration. The space and its inhabitants actively participate in the daily patterns of city life, spreading their influence beyond the confines of its walls to the city streets and businesses that are all around.

This spirit of collaborative community engagement, of treating a museum as an active, living space has brought many creative programs to this North Carolina community. The living museum offers “playshops” and creative retreats to companies, hosts a rotating roster of artists, and provides a variety of programs for members of the community young and old.

In this spirit of community driven content, the North Carolina Humanities Council awarded a public humanities project grant to Elsewhere in its November 2010 grant cycle. The grant went to support the program Storefront Lectures, originally called “Living Room Lectures.” Storefront Lectures is a series of reflective conversations investigating issues of social, political, artistic, and cultural import that take place in the store-front window of Elsewhere, a space that directly opens on a downtown sidewalk. Using the exterior space of the museum, as well as the front window display area, creates a strong connection between the living museum and the active, vibrant city around it.

When the program began as “Living Room Lectures,” lecturers were asked to give a 15 minute presentation on whatever topic interested them. Sometimes residents of Elsewhere provided the presentations, while other times people from the Greensboro community presented on topics they felt passionate about. As the series grew in popularity, it transformed in to Storefront Lectures, with community curators who select speakers to address such topics as the history of street theater, food and urban permaculture, and the museum’s place in civic life.

Stop by Elsewhere and become a part of the shared communal story being created every day!