Student Journal: What My Pin Means To Me

Fig 1: The world map with pins in the exhibition.

Student Journal: What My Pin Means To Me

Emily Marturano

During the planning of this exhibit, an idea was formed that we should include some sort of interactive aspect to engage with the guests. This was finalized in the form of two maps – one of the United States, one of the world. Our intention with the maps was to have our visitors place pins in maps from where they were from or also in location with which they identified with. We hoped that through these maps, we could convey the same message that was so vital in the creation of the Nationality Room, which was the importance of immigration and national identity within communities in Pittsburgh. I thought this was a great idea, but I was not sure how great of an effect it would actually have on the exhibit.  

On the morning before the opening, the class stood in front of the two empty maps, mounted on corkboard. We had been given special long white pins that were just for the members of the class to use, colorful pins for visitors that would soon take up residence on the map. I had the honor of putting in the first pin. I joked before pinning about what an honor it was to go first. I stuck one pin in my small hometown in western New Jersey and another in the town in Sicily where my father was born, and I moved on with my day without thinking much more about it.

Later that evening, during the opening, I found myself back in the rotunda watching as almost every visitor stuck a pin in the map. It was then that I realized the impact the map could have on the exhibit. In an exhibit based around immigration and identity, the map allowed me to take into consideration how my national identity helps me view the world. I hope that other visitors to the museum have this same realization. I believe that the maps can create a new viewpoint through which to experience the exhibit. Looking at these maps forces visitors to recognize that each one of us has a unique cultural background and different family histories, and because of this, we are able to come together to create a new, diverse community here in Pittsburgh. This idea is what propelled the Nationality Rooms into existence almost 80 years ago, and is still an important aspect to recognize today.

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