Oglebay Institute’s Show Offers Educational Events

From elucidation for inquiring adults to enlightment for curious children, Oglebay Institute’s Antiques Show and Sale offers informative tips for all age groups.

The 58th annual show and sale takes place at Wilson Lodge in Oglebay Park Friday through Sunday, April 13-15, offering a learning experience for avid collectors, antiques admirers and budding enthusiasts. This year’s event features more than 50 expert dealers from 10 states.

One of the popular recent additions to the show is the Children’s Show Tour, led by Oglebay Institute expert Holly McCluskey of Wheeling. The youngsters’ tour, now in its third year, will be offered at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14.

Christin Byrum, Oglebay Institute director of museums, said the tour is “a lot of fun” for both the children and the show dealers. “We send a flyer out to the dealers that are coming in advance and ask them to contact us with anything they have that might be of interest to a particular age range,” she explained.

“The dealers have been so receptive to this idea. They like having the children come to their booths,” Byrum said. “It’s worked out really well.”

The special tour attracts, on average, four or five children, “which is a good size because they can all get up close,” the director said.

Byrum recommends the tour for youngsters from age 5 or 6 up to 12. “If you think that your child is going to be interested, I don’t think 5 is too young. They’re like sponges,” she said.

“They’re the next generation of antiquers,” she commented. “If you can instill an interest and a respect and dispel any fear factor, the earlier you can accomplish that, the better.”

In another positive development, Byrum said, “The children then come back with their parents or grandparents and take them on the tour. So you get some intergenerational interaction. I think it’s always great when the adults can learn something from the children.

“The dealers are really good about letting the child explain what this is and say, ‘Dad, let me show how it works,'” she added. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Byrum said the children’s tour teaches young people to have respect, rather than fear, for antiques. Children also get a glimpse into the lifestyles of previous generations by viewing items that are no longer used today. Items such as antique toys, typewriters, phonographs, cameras and various kitchen tools and gadgets often spark the interest of children, she said.

“Their natural curiosity leads to more questions about the why and how various items were used, how they compare to items today and what it was like to live in various time periods,” she said.

Organizers of the Antiques Show and Sale have tried to build on the educational aspect of the event over the past several years, Byrum said. “The whole premise started with Bobbie Michael’s show tour. That has become such a favorite tradition. We have thought about how we can build on that tradition. Holly McCluskey is offering the glass tour. We have the children’s tour and the dealer booth talks.

“Collectively, our dealers have about 1,300 years of experience,” Byrum related, quipping, “I think they have a nugget or two of knowledge to share.”

Michael’s guided show tour will take place at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 14. “Her tour and the popularity of it was the inspiration for all the other educational programs that have been added over the years. Guests enjoy learning from her expertise, and her enthusiasm inspires others to develop their own knowledge and passion for antiques collecting,” Byrum said.

Dealer booth talks will be presented at 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, April 14. McCluskey, a Wheeling glass expert, will conduct a guided glass tour at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 15.

“The antiques show is more than just a marketplace. It is a visual display of interesting items from earlier generations,” Byrum said. “We have developed educational programs for all ages and interest levels so our show can serve as a sort of crash course in antiquing.

“In addition to the scheduled events, guests can gain valuable knowledge by simply walking up and chatting with our dealers,” she said. “Each booth is occupied by an expert dealer, who has handpicked every item on display. They are not just antiques sellers; they are antiques educators. They are eager to share what they know with every customer.”

Special preview events, including the popular Dessert with Antiques party from 7-10 p.m. Friday, April 13, launch the annual show.

“Guests at the dessert preview party are the first to shop the show, enjoy an enticing array of sweets and coffees, mingle and talk with dealers before the show opens to the general public,” Byrum said.

The ticket price for the dessert party includes repeat admission to the show on Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15. A cash bar is available. Guests can purchase tickets to the party by calling 304-242-7272.

Last year, organizers of the Dessert with Antiques party established an open arrangement in the dessert display area that “makes it easier to socialize,” Byrum said, and they began offering smaller servings so that guests can feel free to sample a wider array of the tempting treats.

Reflecting on the changes and innovations, Byrum remarked, “I love the way this committee is constantly thinking of how to make this event the best that it can be for everybody.”

General show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 14, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 15. Admission is charged.

Oglebay Institute’s event is the largest and longest-running antiques show in West Virginia, officials said. The 2012 show is sponsored by Dinsmore and Shohl LLP and Hughes Design and Gift Gallery. For more information, call the Museums of Oglebay Institute at 304-242-7272.