As part of the 2010 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment (run by the Berwick Research Institute in Boston Harbor), I claimed the picnic table at the top of the Bumpkin Island spit as the site for the archives
and primary activities of the Bumpkin Island History Society (BIHS), which included artifacts, pamphlets of Bumpkin Island research, facsimiles of historical documents and photographs, and archival material from the 2009 and 2010 encampments. In addition to daily open hours staffed by the archivist (me), BIHS reached out to a range of visitors beyond those with a historical bent via:
• 2x3” cards with evocative phrases or facts that dangled from paths all over the island, allowing walkers to encounter history unexpectedly and process it privately
• A temporary 3­D visual graph of the population of the island, using piles of periwinkle shells instead of numbers
• A small sculpture naming historical residents of Bumpkin whose history has not been recorded

In addition to receiving information, visitors took part in shaping the archive by contributing their own knowledge of Bumpkin through writing, sound recording, and data collection. They also asked questions, joined the society, argued, got bored, got interested, wrote, told stories, speculated, and spent leisurely periods reading and looking at the archive’s materials.

Video interview by Patrick Johnson

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