Exhibit for famed UFO researcher coming to Fredericton this summer
'It's going to be unique and very different for the Fredericton Region Museum,' says executive director
Volunteers at the Fredericton Region Museum typically spend hours re-crafting military uniforms and wedding dresses from the 19th century, but for the next five months they'll be designing alien replicas made from chicken wire.
Melynda Jarratt, executive director at the Fredericton Region Museum, is organizing an exhibit to commemorate the life and work of Stanton Friedman, a famed-ufologist and nuclear physicist from Fredericton who died last year.
Jarratt and Friedman became friends in the early 1990s, when Jarratt proposed filming a TV documentary on the UFO researcher.
"He was a very nice man who I was very honoured to have met and got to know," Jarratt said.
Friedman published dozens of papers about UFOs and co-wrote several books on the subject, including one about Barney and Betty Hill, a couple who claimed to have had a close encounter with aliens in 1961 while returning to the U.S. from a visit to Montreal.
Friedman died in May 2019 at Toronto Pearson Airport while on his way back from a speaking engagement in Columbus, Ohio. He was 84.
Making the exhibit a reality
In 2017, Friedman contacted Jarratt about creating a museum with his UFO documents and artifacts.
"I said, 'Stanton that's a big undertaking' … I knew he had enough archival [material] and artifacts, having been to his house, and anybody who has been to Stanton's house knows that is an experience in itself," Jarratt said. "It was a museum."
Jarratt recommended Friedman donate some of his materials to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, which he did — 5 truckloads worth.
"That was the last conversation we had."
After the ufologist died, Jarratt contacted Friedman's daughter, Melissa, about putting together an exhibit in his memory.
Last fall, Jarratt went to a storage facility and collected eight boxes worth of Friedman's documents, audio-visual material, and other items that the provincial archives hadn't already collected.
"The storage thing was three-quarters filled with boxes of Stanton's things, and included among them are some very odd pieces," Jarratt said.
Nestled in the boxes are dozens of artifacts from Friedman's life, including a Betty and Veronica comic book Friedman was featured in, a set of ping pong balls with his face on it, awards, family photographs and letters from the CIA refusing to talk to Friedman.
There was also a bronze statue of an alien with Converse sneakers from the Mutual UFO Network. The figurine is essentially the Oscar of the UFO world.
"We just started opening up these boxes, and it was just one thing after the other, after the other."
Jarratt said the exhibition is a suitable way to honour Stanton's legacy, a man whose passion for UFOs even led the City of Fredericton to declare Aug. 27, 2007, Stanton Friedman Day.
"Stanton was part of our community and he had very interesting role to play that took him out beyond Fredericton and into worlds beyond … I think he deserves to be honoured in this way."
The Stanton Friedman Exhibit will open in July and run throughout the year.
"It's going to be unique and very different for the Fredericton Region Museum."