Behind the Scenes: Celebration Helmet Exhibit Creation

When we came up with the concept for a “wall of helmets” we didn’t know exactly how to pull it off. I knew that our exhibit booth was made of slat-wall and I knew there existed hangers for baseball caps, but those hangers weren’t long enough or tall enough and what if the weight of the helmets brought the wall down!?

We had helmets on display at the museum from the several charity auctions over the years. Those came from the auction with their stand which was quite simply made with plumbing parts. We deconstructed one of them and made an exploratory research trip to Home Depot. You can make these at home yourself:

  1. Thick plywood base
  2. PVC toilet flange screwed to the base
  3. PVC pipe inserted into the flange
  4. Cloth sleeve and base cover

Once we had the stands we needed to know how many and which helmets we wanted to display. I went through the museum and took quick photographs of all the helmets that were out in the open, printed them in little squares and gave them to Steve. He picked most of them and we discussed the merits of others together. We laid the photos out in what we thought would work for a nice display.

Our docent Dwayne Smith took over the prep of the stands–cutting bases from sheets and sawing pipes to the appropriate heights. Our volunteer Lorena sewed all the sleeves and bases. Then, we REALLY needed to set the exhibit up to make sure it worked. The entire docent crew came to participate. We rearranged the placement of helmets to space out colors and sizes until we felt it was as good as it could get. We took photographic evidence to help us recreate the exhibit.

The last piece of the helmet exhibit puzzle was how to transport a whole bunch of heavy round tubes without potential disaster. The solution came from our carpenter Carl Wagner who used an enormous hole saw to create a cradle to hold all the pieces in place.

Anne Neumann is President and CEO of Rancho Obi-Wan, former Volunteer Coordinator and Fan Club Breakfast Manager for Official Pix, and previously a Systems Analyst at the University of Texas at Austin.