History Funhouse: The Wayne-O-Rama Story exhibition

Get a sneak peek into the Chattanooga Public Library’s upcoming exhibit that showcases work from Wayne White.

NOOGAtoday | Wayne-O-Rama puppets

The exhibit will feature nine original puppet heads from Wayne-O-Rama.

Photo by NOOGAtoday

The Chattanooga Public Library and the Shaking Ray Levi Society have partnered to curate its upcoming exhibition “History Funhouse: The Wayne-O-Rama Story” + we’re here to give you the first look.

Showcased on the third floor of its downtown branch (1001 Broad St.), the library will bring back the work featured in “Wayne-O-Rama” by Chattanooga native Wayne White. The indoor funhouse ran from 2016-17 + depicted Chattanooga’s history in the style of puppets and sculptures.

NOOGAtoday | Wayne-O-Rama puppets

Local artist Randy Fairchild worked to maintain the puppets during “Wayne-O-Rama” + helped the library piece the cardboard puppets back together.

Photo by NOOGAtoday

Puppets | Adolph Ochs, Nancy Ward, Sequoyah, John Ross, Mary Edwards Walker, Emma Rochelle Wheeler, Frieda Carter, Luther Masingill, Olan Mills + a full-size of Bessie Smith

“Mock-ettes” (aka prototypes) | Lookout Mountain, Dragging Canoe, Bessie Smith + Bob Brandy

Historical archives + artifacts | Cherokee alphabet (invented by Sequoyah), articles, Bessie Smith’s LPs, etc.

The library’s head of local history and genealogy Jessica Sedgwick said the idea behind the exhibit is to tell the more in-depth story + history behind “Wayne-O-Rama.” She added that bringing a personality to these historical figures creates a deeper connection for the community.

NOOGAtoday | Sequoya archives

The library will also have duplicates of its files on each historical figure for folks to flip through and learn about each person.

Photo by NOOGAtoday

Jessica said that the library will offer hands-on workshops for the community to go alongside the exhibit, such as build-your-own puppets with local artists + a workshop on historical research for those who want to learn how to navigate archives.

The library will host an opening reception on Thursday, July 27 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. + the exhibit will be on display through the end of December. Stay tuned for immersive activities across its branches.

“We have rich collections in the library that tell the story of John Ross and Bessie Smith and the others,” Jessica said. “We want to get the word out we have this here, and that it’s for everyone to come and enjoy.”

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