Fayetteville The Matilda Joslyn Gage house in Fayetteville is set up so that its contents are consistently pushing visitors to question their opinions. From white boards on the walls encouraging museum-goers to record their questions to spaces on the floor set up specifically for discussion, the Gage house is a place for people to forget any reservations they may have about their opinions and let them all out. And that’s why the museum received a worldwide grant to be the first in the country to test out a new kind of dialogue about a topic that many people go out of their way to avoid talking about: a woman’s right to reproductive choice.
Sally Roesch-Wagner is the executive director for the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation and she couldn’t be more thrilled for the opportunity to engage Central New Yorkers while setting a precedent for the rest of the country.
“The people that take part in this dialogue are really going to be creating history. Not only will they experience the dialogue, but they’ll be part of something bigger- the creation of something that will be replicated by museums around the country.”
This dialogue has been over a year in the making. The Gage house received the grant in 2011 and Roesch- Wagner has been busy hiring a diverse group of facilitators and creating guidelines for the project. She says she was afraid at first that there would be too many like- minded people with similar opinions signing up, but that hasn’t been the case so far.
“We are getting people signing up for this dialogue on all different sides of the issue, which is exactly what we wanted. That’s why we made sure that when we reached out to facilitators we looked far and wide to get individuals from the religious community as well as many others.”