Way Back Wednesday: Tools for Modern Living


There was a time when hi-tech was low-tech and the history vault at The Grace is full of reminders that maybe those weren’t necessarily simpler times. Judging from the treasures in the history collection, the residents of Abilene have been on the cutting edge of modern convenience since the 1880s. In the 1950’s the Museums of Abilene added a history focus and in 1977 the Junior League of Abilene began a 3 year project to acquire artifacts and establish a historical collection focusing on the history of Abilene and the surrounding area. The success of that project now fills the history museum and vault at The Grace Museum where they have been documented and preserved.

The concept for the exhibition, Tools for Modern Living: Treasures from the History Vault, came from the realization that we are using hi-tech gizmos to televise our historic low-tech gadgets to the delight and awe of so many children who never knew that early telephones were only for talking. Questions like, “where’s the remote?” from a third grader touring the 1925 parlor could only be answered with an exhibition created to display some of the most curious treasures from the history vault that have not previously been on view due to lack of space. These once prized possessions of thoroughly modern Abilenians have now become obsolete by twenty-first century technological standards but they have been elevated to the status of historic artifact and are the subject of great curiosity for younger generations, especially if their parents and grandparents tag along to fill in the details.

We hope you will join us for a little time travel and check out cameras, radios, toys, kitchen appliances, television sets, telephones, office equipment, fashion items along with a few mystery objects dating from the 1880’s to 1950.