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Bicentennial year to wrap up with time capsule presentation

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 16, 2018


BIRMINGHAM — Christmastime in Birmingham is always special. But this year’s festivities will be a little more memorable, since they will serve as the conclusion of the city’s yearlong bicentennial celebration.

Throughout 2018, the Birmingham Museum has hosted a number of special events and discussions to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the city’s founding and to wrap up the memories by inviting young people to add a few more to the pile.

Leslie Pielack, director of the Birmingham Museum, explained that the museum is in the midst of launching a time capsule project focused on local students. The capsule will be presented to the city during the annual tree-lighting ceremony Friday, Nov. 30, which also happens to be the kickoff of the Winter Markt in Shain Park.

The plan is that the capsule will be retrieved for the city’s 250th anniversary in 2068, giving residents a kind of snapshot of what life was like for students 50 years prior. Hopefully, Pielack said, some of today’s students will be able to return for that ceremony.

“Students will be able to send a message to themselves in the future if they like, or to family members, the people of Birmingham or society in general,” said museum board chair Tina Krizanic in an email. “The idea is for each student to consider what they want to say and how they say it, whether it’s a poem, an essay, a photo, a song lyric, or any other creative contribution that means something special to them and that they want to preserve for future access.”

Students will have to convert their messages into digital files of no more than 10 megabytes. They’ll need to identify themselves by school, first name and grade within the digital file name, and then send submissions via email to the museum before Dec. 31.

Every contribution is expected to be included — no judging of submissions — and in addition to audio and video files, students’ memories can include digital photographs of scenery, people or activities; a series of photos; a scanned handmade drawing or graphic design; a poem; or a short story.

The capsule will be buried in Shain Park with an engraved granite marker identifying the location and date to be opened. Teachers, family members and friends are encouraged to get in on the project to help students craft their message.

“Despite concerns that 2018 electronic files may not be accessible in 50 years, we want to reassure everyone that libraries and public archives have established methods of preserving and carrying forward existing formats,” said Pielack in a prepared statement. “Just as we watch vintage 20th-century 35 mm films online or hear 1940s sound recordings that were originally on vinyl records, our students’ digitized files will be readable in 2068.”

Submissions 10 MB and smaller can be sent to Pielack at

The time capsule, she said, complements the museum’s award-winning bicentennial exhibit, “The People of Birmingham: 200 Years of Stories,” which will be on display until January.

For more information, visit or call (248) 530-1928. The Birmingham Museum is located at 556 W. Maple Road in downtown Birmingham.