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Archives Gold: 50 Objects for UMBC’s 50th

This past week, the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery held the last installment for the archival project, “Archives Gold: 50 Objects for UMBC’s 50th,” bringing the school’s official 50th celebration to a close. This exhibition, which displayed one new item every week, began its run in Oct. 2015. The collection started off with a brick from one of the original three buildings, Gym 1, which was torn down in 1999 to make room for The Commons.

The previous weeks’ 49 objects that were displayed included campus maps, photographs, the very first issue of The Retriever (previously known as “UMBC News”) and various other memorabilia from past graduating classes. One item – which encompasses the sentimental and “groundbreaking” qualities of a school coming into its own – was a bag of dirt collected from the lot where the campus broke ground to begin construction of the Performing Arts & Humanities building, which was open to students in the Fall 2014 semester.

The last object displayed to the campus which brought the project full-circle was the exhibition book, “Sharing the Past, Building the Future: UMBC at 50.” The book’s title also became the official slogan for UMBC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.

The exhibition book itself contains a variety of photographs, old maps of the campus and features of organizations and groups that have helped make UMBC into the college that it is today. As the last item of the collection, the book brings together a lot of the items that were displayed in previous weeks and is available for purchase in the Bookstore.

There is an online version of the exhibition book which highlights all of its contents, giving anyone who may have missed the original showing to catch up or enjoy looking at the different memories again. There are several themes covered in both the physical book and online, ranging from founding UMBC, student activism and student publications to athletics and campus growth, as well as others.

Just like all of the other 50th Anniversary events that took place this semester, there were key people behind the scenes that made everything run smoothly to add to the celebration. The Library Gallery and online exhibits were put together with the help of chief curator Tom Beck, archivist Lindsey Loeper, curator of exhibitions Emily Hauver, special collections librarian Susan Graham and many others who contributed to writing, researching and organizing with hard work and dedication to celebrate UMBC.

Observers got a look into the past life of UMBC throughout the full exhibit and the final displayed book, with its purpose of helping them feel as if they were a part of the 50 years it helped capture. When the future celebrations of monumental milestones of UMBC take place, whether it is the 60th or the 100th anniversary, current students and faculty can look forward to the many things that will be displayed to showcase their time spent on campus. If those celebrations are anything like the 50th Anniversary, there is no doubt that many will return to see it all come back to life.

The online exhibit can be found at