Currently on display in the Benton County Historical Museum are photos of items disassembled into their smallest components, each of which is paired with a photo of all those components being dropped from a height.

About 20 local kids got to do their own version of the photos with more than 100 pieces of a pipe organ they disassembled, although they skipped the step of dropping the expensive, custom-made instrument, which is designed to be easily disassembled for educational activities just like this.

The experience was part of a family day activity at the museum that paired its “Things Come Apart” exhibit on loan from the Smithsonian with a hands-on activity courtesy of OrgelKids, a Corvallis-based project that brings the small, easily disassembled pipe organs to schools and maker fairs.

Erin Scheessele, who led the activity, said it is an inversion of the lesson she usually does with kids.

“Usually we build it. This time we’re turning that on its head. They get to see it put together and play it, and then they take it apart,” she said.

After arranging the pieces for a photo mirroring those produced by Todd McLellan, the artist behind “Things Come Apart,” the kids reassembled the organ in time for a concert to be played on it.

Scheessele has done numerous school visits with the organ over the last year and has taken it to Seattle and Canada to show it at events.

Mark Tolonen, exhibitions curator with the museum, said the organ lesson was a perfect family day activity to pair with the touring exhibition.

“We’re trying to engage as much of our audience as possible and for the youth, they need something hands-on, something tangible and tactile.”

Tolonen said kids really have been enjoying the exhibit, so much so that they’re even counting the number of parts in the photos to compare whether they match with the number the captions say should be in the pictures. In one case, he said, the kids even found a photo that had one fewer component than its caption said.

Tolonen added that the exhibit will be on display at the museum until Jan. 20. The museum is open 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.


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