Park Invites Comments on Union Building Exhibits

Image of portion of the model for the Union Building exhibit
A three dimensional model provides a look at the treatment of exhibits being developed for the Union Building.

Image courtesy of the Office of Krister Olmon

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News Release Date: October 29, 2009

Contact: Dan Johnson, Interpretive Specialist, (906) 337-3168

(Calumet, Michigan) The National Park Service at Keweenaw National Historical Park is hosting a public meeting at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, to acquire feedback from the community on the current design of interpretive exhibits that will be located in the Union Building in Calumet.

The meeting will be held at park headquarters, located at 25970 Red Jacket Road, Calumet, Michigan. Attendees will be able to look at detailed floor plans, view a three-dimensional model of the exhibit areas, see elevation drawings of exhibit features and read descriptions of the exhibits with proposed objects for display. Some samples of interpretive text will be available to review.

Prior to the meeting, beginning at 5:00 pm that evening until 5:45 pm, staff will be on hand at the park's museum and archival collection facility to show selected artifacts and archival materials to the public. Some of these items may be used in the Union Building exhibits.

This exhibition will focus primarily on life in Calumet during the copper mining era. Therefore, discussion will center primarily on ideas related to that topic. Three story threads, revolving around immigration, labor history and corporate paternalism, will permeate the exhibit areas. During the meeting, we will be discussing some of the specific stories included in the exhibit, how the exhibit will tell those stories, the artifacts that will be included, and the audiences that will utilize the exhibit.

We are looking for broad participation in these discussions, including area residents, students and individuals from community organizations, local governments, and park partners. For more information on the public meeting or the Union Building project, phone the park at (906) 337-3168 or visit us on the web at

Funding was secured to finalize the design for both the architectural aspects and exhibit components of the project. This step moves the project closer to the contracting and construction phase. If funding is received and all deadlines for contracting are met, construction could begin in late 2010 or early 2011. The construction phase is anticipated to last approximately nine months.

In 1999, the National Park Service purchased the historic Union Building in Calumet with the long-range goal of making it an interpretive facility for both area visitors and residents. The National Park Service at Keweenaw National Historical Park completed the first phase of the building’s rehabilitation by stabilizing its exterior in 2005. In 2008, the park received funding to begin planning the interior portion of the project. In October 2008, three different design alternatives for the exhibits were presented. After receiving public comments, the National Park Service selected one of those alternatives for further development.

The Office of Krister Olmon, Inc. and the NPS hosted a historian's roundtable January 13 – 15, 2009 to discuss the national context of the Calumet social story and review themes, concepts and information related to the Union Building exhibits. In addition to NPS staff from the park, Harpers Ferry Interpretive Design Center and the Office of Krister Olmon Inc., participants included Dr. Betsy Jameson from the University of Calgary; Dr. Larry Lankton from Michigan Technological University; Dr. William Moore from the University of North Carolina, Willmington; Dr. Mary Murphy from Montana State University; and Dr. Robert Zecker from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Each historian provided valuable input on the national significance of the copper mining story, and the roundtable proved to be a success with lively and productive discussion.

In March 2009, the park received the Schematic II Plan for the interior exhibits from Krister Olmon. This plan further developed the exhibit concept and incorporated feedback from the meetings, workshops, open houses, and historian’s roundtable held previously. In July 2009, the exhibits moved into the Design Development I phase, which is currently under evaluation. This phase provides a more detailed look at the exhibit features. Based on input received from area visitors, park partners, members of the community, and National Park Service staff, the Design Development I phase will be finalized, and the exhibit project will prepare Production Documents to contract the project and build the exhibits.

The National Park Service invites all interested people to attend this meeting and become involved in the development of this exhibit.

Last updated: March 16, 2018

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25970 Red Jacket Road
Calumet, MI 49913


(906) 337-3168

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