Arnprior museum's 'evocative' tattoo exhibit draws new visitors

The Arnprior and District Museum is drawing in a new clientele with a colourful and evocative exhibit featuring images of tattoos and the stories behind them. The display is completely different from what the museum normally features, according to the curator.

'My Story, My Tattoo' features colourful images of tattoos and the stories behind them

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      The Arnprior and District Museum is drawing in new clientele with a travelling exhibit that features colourful images of tattoos accompanied by the moving and emotional stories behind the ink.

      The exhibit My Story, My Tattoo is a total departure from temporary exhibits the museum would normally bring in, said curator Janet Carlile, who described the display as "evocative."

      "This is somewhat groundbreaking for us," said Carlile.

      "We would normally bring in an exhibit that would be a very complimentary one to the exhibits that we already have or indeed the history of Arnprior," she added.
      Janet Carlile said the exhibit is drawing in people from Ottawa, Gatineau and Toronto. (Robyn Miller)

      The display is on loan from Wellington County Museum and Archives and features 32-thought provoking images that are accompanied by audio or plaques to explain the significance of each person's tattoos.

      The change up is paying off, according to Carlile, who said the museum has had at least 400 people through the doors since mid-February when the exhibit opened.

      "Which is a lot for us and a lot for this time of year, especially with the weather that we've had," said Carlile.

      "We've had people walk in who hadn't been here since it was a post office in 1963 ... and so they walk in and say, 'Oh this is a museum, wow,'" she said.

      Fighting the tattoo stereotype

      On Saturday, the museum hosted Ottawa tattoo artist Crystal Balser to speak about the meaning of tattooing, safety and what to look for in a tattoo artist.

      "I think it's really interesting that a museum is now taking steps to accept modern tattooing," said Balser.
      Crystal Balser is happy to see a museum taking interest in tattooing. She said she hopes the exhibit will fight the stereotype that only bad or wild people get tattoos. (Robyn Miller)

      "Tattooing is kind of stepping out of the traditional stereotype that only bad people or wild people get tattooed."

      Betty Gautier came from Calabogie to view the exhibit for the second time and take in Saturday's presentation.

      "I thought, wow, it's an expression that they've used or a method they've used to talk about a lot of pain in their life, could have been mental or physical. It was stunning, just stunning," she said.

      My Story, My Tattoo will be at the Arnprior museum until April 24.